Cursed To See The Future is the US Brooklyn trio’s sophomore full length and I think the word ‘monumental’ was probably invented for it. Six tracks in about fifty minutes is a formidable proposition, especially when it’s built of huge great chunks of riffing. It is also not entirely what I was expecting. I thought I was getting (yet) another sludge rehash in stolen black metal clothes. Instead I was very pleasantly gobsmacked to find this was much more built on the bones of heavy dirty riff machines like High On Fire but with the meat carved from black, thrash, Entombed and maybe a little Death or a grain or two of At The Gates sinew.
‘View From A Tower’ batter’s its way through the entrance hall in no uncertain terms: A fine rattling bit of death metal riffing with just enough high end melody to slice through the heaviness. The breakdown on this is where you first notice the excellent tricky drumming and Mortals’ need to rock out in that High On Fire bass-calls-down-the-thunder way. Excellent start and clear statement of intent.
Straight off I’ll have to declare a teeny bit of an issue with the vocals. Now they are actually rather good; snarled, drawn out screams of real throat tearing ferocity so I will probably be alone here. But they do lack just a little variation and when laid so high in the mix they can sometimes actually hide way too much of what makes Mortals so very special; the frankly huge variation in riff, melody, time and tempo they bring to the table and the innate knowledge of how to bind them into a cohesive and surging song.
Things initially slow down for second song ‘Epochryphal Gloom’ before rising into a sinuous, thrashy swirl of black metal style all razor edges and crescendo climbing. It’s great to hear the bass anchoring this too as the guitars screech and claw at the walls, and the rumbling rock riffing sections are just beautifully built on those almost tribal drums. This is kind of the point where you fall in love with Mortals; when you realise how tight a three piece they are and their fascinating, innate ability to shake the bag and just let these amazing rhythms fall out. Despite titles they aren’t the darkest band around; ‘The Summoning’ for example just rocks way too hard for that. These endless waves of riffs come direct from the fountain head though and not through several layers of filtration. There is the same kind of purity to Mortals as there is to H.A.R.K., an honest love of the riff and the rhythm that glistens and pushes through every seam, just here on songs like ‘Devilspell’ it surges on a tide of driving blackened death ‘n’ roll. Dense, yes, riffs hitting, rolling and twisting like asteroids in space but despite the heavy and beautifully fluid bass lines this never gets mired in sludge. Instead ‘Series Of Decay’ rips up out of the tar and slashes those bright, dangerous Death forged edges at your throat. And yours truly is by this point too dumbstruck to get out of the way, managing to whisperer “Masterful… ” as ‘Anchored In Time’ takes a slow, deliberate blade across my throat.
With ‘Cursed To See The Future’ Mortals manage to both intrigue the head with their technical flourishes while punching hard for the gut with the sheer heart they drive this blackened death ‘n’ roll machine with. Everything you want from a power trio. A genuine brain rattling slab of pure soul.