|Release Date||22 Feb 2019|
After cooking up a few EP’s in the first five years of their existence, progressive power metallers Mortanius’ first album, Till Death Do Us Part, has come out of the shadows. The American group’s musical objective of creating unique music is definitely achieved, resulting in a sound that is accurately described as the Castlevania soundtrack going prog.
The whole background is rich with harpsichord and string tracks, as well as many vocal harmonies. Did I say many vocal harmonies? I meant a lot. An assload. There really isn’t a minute you’ll find away from them. Step aside, Queen, because Mortanius is here to beat the hell out of you with an army of backing vocals. On the bright side, the assortment of background parts makes for a consistently full sound. Some absolutely killer double-kick drum beats make frequent appearances in Till Death Do Us Part, namely in Disengage, but, to my dismay, they are piloted by a drum machine. Nevertheless, the grooves sound great and blend in well with the rest of the band.
‘Facing The Truth’ kicks off the album with some cool shots before it gets right into your typical 6/8 power metal groove driven by heavy pipe organs and other synth pieces, reinforcing that medieval sound. The guitar solo is sick and there’s a ton going on, which will almost certainly demand a second listen.
Special attention must be given to vocalist Lucas Flocco. He is simply fantastic. His sharp, floating voice climbs ever-higher, backwards in time and out of puberty (bypassing the horrific, esteem-breaking voice-cracks) and producing a pleasant timbre that demonstrates an impressive amount of control. And that goes for those backing vocals, too. The album also features two guest vocalists (though it sure as shit doesn’t need them): Japanese vocalist Leo Figaro, known for his roles in Dragon Guardian and Mistrelix, as well as a handful of other projects; and Jonas Heidgert, lead vocalist of Dragonland.
One song in particular stands out from the rest as something exceptional. The eighteen-minute long titular track is fun, dynamic and a perfect example of prog done right. It begins slow, and builds into a tremolo-driven instrumental that is a fair bit more mournful than the rest of the album. After a few minutes of some powerful, driving metal, the track pulls right back into a solo section that keeps on delivering solo after solo, with contributions from the bass, acoustic guitar, piano, and electric guitar. The instrumental transitions perfectly into the following verse, and we’re treated to another guitar solo before the song’s conclusion.
I was caught off guard on the final track; the record closes with a surprisingly good power-ballad version of Last Christmas (which is a nice change from the same fucking Ariana Grande-bouncy-electro-pop rendition it gets literally every year) but it strikes me as strange and, for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on, a little creepy that it’d be included on a February release.
Till Death Do Us Part delivers a one-of-a-kind, almost avant-garde experience. The computerized drums are a disappointment and the Christmas inclusion rubbed me a weird way. No, not good weird, either. Also, those vocal harmonies don’t quit. They’re around every corner. Is that a bad thing? Probably not. Anyway, with a runtime that’s short and sweet and plenty of variety within its five songs, Till Death Do Us Part has certainly earned my respect and I look forward to Mortanius’ next whimsical release.
Originally written for metal-observer.com