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Mortem - De Natura Daemonum

Mortem - De Natura Daemonum
Copyright © 2005 Iron Pegasus

1. Into The Nethermost (01:28)
2. De Natura Daemonum (03:11)
3. Black Demons (04:29)
4. Shadows that pray to Asurah (05:32)
5. Qarqacha, Demon of Incest (01:21)
6. Dead Forms of Evil (04:03)
7. One with the dead (04:17)
8. Illusion of Blood (05:02)
9. Its Tomb leads to Hell (04:46)
10. The Witch (01:32)
11. Superstition (05:32)

Rippingly fast, phrasal death metal in the South American school with touches early '90s Scandinavian death metal in the length and complexity of phrases, "De Natura Daemonum" by Mortem is simultaneously a step back from their previous effort, "Decomposed by Possession", in that the phrases are frequently streamlined into less awkward, and as a consequence, less distinctive, streams of notes, partially taming the chaos from the previous album, and a step forward, in that songs tend to be less chorus-heavy and have less repetition while still maintaining cohesion.

The backbone of the album is the Massacra/Mortuary styled frenetically paced even cadenced riffs, a chromatic sequencing of notes and power chords that also calls to mind melodic Scandinavian death metal such as early Dismember or Necrophobic in the length and flowing nature of the melodies. The vocals stretch and distort syllables, fitting them to the music, and the drums mainly act as a pace-setter, with little in the way of fills or ostentatious beats. As a consequence of these means of composition, which de-emphasize the role of rhythm, the album is able to build a sinister atmosphere and majesty that's perhaps more akin to what would be expected of a black metal band, but the release distinguishes itself as death metal through its strict structuralism and seeming lack of emotion to the horror it portrays.

Songs start by establishing a pair of ideas which could be described as verse and chorus, but then quickly diverging into an expansive narrative revealing the motive behind the opening pair, before rising back to the surface pair and quickly summing it up to end the song. The structural technique is similar to what Morbid Angel used on their first few albums, and so is the effect- the base pair gives direction and cohesion, keeping the song from falling into meaningless riff salad, while expansion allows the song to progress instead of pointlessly circling through emotions. Guitar solos are surprisingly common, yet tastefully used, sitting somewhere between the noise soloing of Slayer and the more melodic soloing of Immolation- wildly atonal, but not as much "noise for noise sakes", frequently carving out interesting and surprisingly expressive melodic figures. The interludes that are used to introduce certain songs are rather goofy, and the album would have probably been better off without them, as the fake spookiness tends to induce laughter more than the desired response.

A fine example of the all-too-rare quality of managing to be "old-school" in attitude without becoming overly derivative or obsessed with catchy speed thrills, "De Natura Daemonum" takes a slightly different direction than Mortem's previous masterpiece "Decomposed by Possession", but the band has maintained their integrity and created a monument to evil and the sovereignty of death. The raw energy of this recording will instantly charm most listeners, but its true power is in its exploration of demonic nature and death's finality.

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