London-based extreme metal brutes Mortad have clawed their way from relative obscurity in the past months, bursting from the underground to assault the eyes, ears and consciences of the general populace. In only a few months the band has released their debut full length album The Myth of Purity, made two music videos, and played a number of festivals. Here we turn our ears to that self released EP which triggered this giant upsurge.
While an upcoming extreme metal band sporting tight musicianship is a pleasant treat to be enjoyed at any time of day, the anomaly that has fired Mortad’s star into the ascendant is without doubt Iranian born vocalist Somi Arian, whose screams transmit every ounce of her vitriol and disdain. Despite sounding as though she may follow through and vomit up her liver, she projects the thought provoking lyrics like a host of angrily pointing fingers. While many will immediately pension off any female extreme vocalist as an Angela Gossow sound alike, which is far from a disservice, I would personally liken her tone to that of Tristessa from Greek Black Metal band Astarte.
The record kicks off with title track ‘Pandemic Paranoia’ which showcases politically themed lyrics in fine style. Despite political and religious injustices both home and abroad featuring heavily in the band’s work, crust punk this is not. Not be oppressed by conventions musical or otherwise Mortad have birthed a truly chameleonic style, with each track featuring nuggets of numerous extreme styles. Some arpeggios would be right at home on a Scandinavian melodeath album, other crashing chords smack of yet darker stuff, veering dangerously into black metal dissonance, only to hobnob seconds later with a cheery guitar solo as unexpected as a turd at the teddy bears picnic. The closing riffs rev up and fade away in turn, offering a brief lull before ‘Black Rose Deflowered’ opens with down tuned stalwart chugging often bandied around by death metal types, its lack the complexity of the previous track, but somehow makes up for it, if only by helping pave the way for the aural brutality that follows hot on its heels. ‘Discipline and Distortion’ is by far the heaviest track, featuring a dense whirlwind of guitars and drums that approach blast beat speed on occasion, defying headbanging attempts!
‘Stricken’ is the longest track, clocking in at a full 6 minutes, each second devoted to railing against oppression and urging uprising. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, this is by far the most melodic offering, and Somi pushes her voice to harsher, abrasive depths churning up a pleasantly murky maelstrom.
‘Waste Of My Rage’ is the “I’ll be back” song of the album, which went on to take pride of place as first single and music video from the following full length. The video consists of Somi wielding various unpleasant looking sharp object and gratuitous amounts of what is hopefully strawberry flavoured corn syrup. Even without the multimedia, the disgust and frustration channelled by duelling guitars, clattering drums and Somi’s snarls have you visualising them all conducting the chaos with enough power tools to bankrupt a small DIY store.
This EP is certainly the shadow of great things to come for Mortad, I enjoy following their progression!