Ukrainian newcomers Mental Torment are right at home on Solitude. As the cover would suggest, ‘On The Verge…’ is murky, despondent doom-death in the funereal vein, full of giant, crashing riffs and plunging dirges. The theme of the album is the sea, and whilst paeans to the uncaring oceans might seem like a bit of an overdone cliché in funeral doom circles, it’s done incredibly well here.
There’s a dizzying momentum at work, the guitars moving in towering swells and monotonous, churning rhythms, with muted, bleak melodies peeking out through the gloom. The riffs have serious weight to them, reminding of Abstract Spirit’s ‘Horror Vacui’ in their abyssal vastness and drawn-out, punishing monotony, backlit by just a faint glow of synth. It sounds overwhelmingly tidal; like being battered endlessly by the indifferent elements in near-total darkness.
It’s never dull though, on account of a gradual, searching progression that recalls Ahab’s leaden-yet-surging debut; full of tortured slow-builds to sudden, slow-chugging bursts of renewed urgency, and with forlorn-and-winding melodic leads stretching out to the distant horizon. Mental Torment have a masterful sense of restraint, lulling the listener into a hypnotic daze with seemingly circular dirges and clean passages, before hitting out with massive, mournful riffs that just keep on coming, hammering on the emotions relentlessly until only splintered wreckage remains. I can’t help but name check Mourning Beloveth at this point, on account of how the riffs are allowed space to slowly breathe through calmer lulls, gathering in strength and slowly growing higher until everything finally crashes back in on itself.
There are also hints of My Dying Bride’s classic ‘Turn Loose The Swans’ in the sharp guitar-wails, clanging, monolithic riffs and climbing, muted melodies absolutely dripping with despondency. Present too are more grandiose doom riffs reminiscent of MDB’s later work, or perhaps that of Saturnus, dragging themselves out slowly with an imperious gloominess. There are brooding, clean passages, sprinklings of sombre spoken word amidst the guttural growls; hopeful melodic solos tinged with warmth; urgent underpinnings of double-bass pedal ratcheting up the tension.
I haven’t identified any specific songs as it all just flows so well together, weaving a rich tapestry that runs for a full 52 minutes without ever growing stale. The overall composition is excellent, with the band members (all seven of them) seeming to be on exactly the same page, bringing a tremendous sense of cohesion and depth. But again- it’s the superb progression that really makes the album. ‘On The Verge…’ has an effortless fluidity about it that is worthy of the album’s concept, and it really knows how to bide its time, slowly and masterfully dredging up some raw and powerful emotions from beneath the expanse of endless grey.
(8.5/10 Erich Zann)