There was a time when these projects used to be dismissed as ‘one man bedroom bands’.
It’s never less than amazing to hear productions now coming out of those bedrooms that are better than those that cost many, many thousands of pounds not a decade ago.
Sonus Mortis are exactly that – the product of the hard working Kevin Byrne, who’s toiled away crafting this expansive and impressively layered metal all on his own.
As with last time he deserves massive credit for the scale of this production and the depth of the music. It seems he’s gotten even better at it.
Take your starting points from Rotting Christ, Triptykon and Dimmu Borgir, and you’ll have a good idea of how this sounds. It’s dark symphonic metal, impressively crunching and with a wide variety of tones and tempos.
There are moments of real genius too, such as the closing choral section of ‘The Crypt Of The Death Prophet’ which is truly eerie, using a chilling plainsong with an unexpected note to add a real feeling of the otherworldly.
Much of it is like what HR Giger would have made out of underground metal had Tom G Warrior not so thoroughly gotten there first. An alien, stomping, mechanized burst.
There are however two flaws here. The first is that fifteen tracks of this is simply far, far too much. Very few bands should have albums of this kind of length, and only then when every single track is gold. Listening through this dense and heavily effected metal is just too big an ask for that duration.
Secondly, that layering is sometimes just too dense and even contradictory. I swear in the likes of ‘Memento Mori’ here I’m hearing the keyboard tracks for at least three distinct songs. It can be hard to know what’s going on under the fog of multiple keys, and at times the central tune gets lost.
So Mr Byrne needs to go away once again and distil this into fewer tracks with greater clarity of purpose. I’m not talking about the production, which is plainly fantastic. It’s about what he’s doing with these songs and why.
Once he cuts away the fuzziness in them, this stuff will be absolutely fantastic. It already has many of the necessary ingredients and only wants refining.
Dont let these two points detract too much from what he has achieved here. The detail in here is fascinating, as well as there being some really pumping metal as well (‘Shell Shocked’ is straight out Rotting Christ, while ‘Cavity’ is straight out vicious).
You should hear it in all its sci-fi splendour.
3.4 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 21/03/15