Mortuary Drape – Wisdom – Vibration – Repent EP


Mortuary Drape are legends in the Italian underground, and many recognise them as an influential band on the black metal scene that developed there in the early 1990s. Their 1994 debut, All the Witches Dance, stands the test of time as an obscure 1990s successor to Celtic Frost’s Into the Pandemonium, so it’s no surprise to learn that Peaceville Records are the current home for their latest release. As an artist that have as many official demo releases as albums since their inception in 1986, Mortuary Drape define the term ‘cult band’. So, what do they have in store for the fourth EP of their career?

Opener, ‘In a Candle Flame’, starts with delay-heavy guitar patterns in clean mode and transitions into a doom riff before you can grab your skull cane. Listen to those fuzz-heavy, bass-overloaded guitars – is this not Candlemass interpreting Norwegian black metal? The sudden tempo changes will remind you of My Dying Bride, but the vocals of founder member, Wildness Perversion, beguile like a satanic cult leader with an abominable bloodlust. This is malicious death-doom in the mould of the most famous band to emerge from Peaceville records in the early 1990s – Paradise Lost. You might even contemplate digging out Lost Paradise on vinyl after hearing this track.

Mortuary Drape always had an element of grizzly thrash metal to their sound, and it makes an appearance on the excellent ‘All in One Night’ after an extended intro of doom chords and tom drum rituals. But the distortion from the amps is dirty and chaotic and far too sludgy for a thrash band. You feel unclean just listening to it. The Italians succeed if the aim is to terrify ninety-nine percent of the world’s music listeners. Fans of the latest Dipygus record will also find common ground here. Their love for improvised pentatonic rock solos adds a theatrical element and eases in the cover of Mercyful Fate’s ‘Nightmare Be Thy Name’ at track three as if it’s the most natural thing in their armoury. This interpretation is raw and thrives on its deliberate imperfections. You wonder if the Italians are yet to discover ProTools, and let’s hope they don’t in the future.

The doom element is the most notable feature of the modern Mortuary Drape sound, but they’ve always had this in their repertoire if you listen to early songs like ‘13th Way’ from 1994. Like that era, they mix the slow with the speedier rhythms of extreme metal on ‘Circle Zero’ and ‘Where Everything Falls’, both of which miscegenate a rancid death-doom approach with primitive death metal. There’s a lot going on underneath the fuzz and fervour of the former, while the latter integrates a circular arpeggio pattern into a grimy wave of distorted fifth chords before gearing into a blackened thrash sortie.

Wisdom – Vibration – Repent is good value for money as an EP and should be a portent of things to come on their next full-length record. You might be more inclined to enjoy this out of respect for the band’s heritage and cult status, but this record does the job of satiating your perfidious desires.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 11/02/2022

Record Label: Peaceville Records

Standout tracks: All in One Night, Where Everything Falls

Suggested Further Listening: Dipygus – Bush Meat (2021), Paradise Lost – Lost Paradise (1990), Video Nasties – Dominion (2020)