Mortification - _Hammer of God_
(Metal Blade, 1999)
by: Paul Schwarz (
I'm sure there are people who will say that my marks and judgements on records such as this one and Narnia's _Long Live the King_ [CoC #39] are based not on my honest musical judgements of what I hear, but on my personal opinions about their religious stance -- which, in both the cases in point, is Christian. I have wondered myself whether this might be the case. I have come to the conclusion that it is not. It's a strange thing, but as far as I have heard, the Devil does, in the great majority of cases, have the best tunes. I am not implying by this that my favourite bands correlate with the most anti-Christian or Satanic bands in my collection, or that there is any shortage of music that I love which has no Satanic or directly anti-Christian agenda. What I am indicating, however, is that the vast majority of the music I enjoy does not lyrically support Christianity specifically or religious belief in general (yes, Satanism is religious belief, but not much of the music I enjoy is religiously Satanic) and is, more often than not, music which many Christians, especially those belonging to groups similar to the PMRC, would have objection to on some level. Immolation, Autopsy, Kreator, Manowar, even Black Sabbath are not bands whose shirts you could walk into a church wearing, and not draw some, at least slight, disapproval from most people. Coming back to the point of reviewing this record, Mortification seem to have two main fall-downs which make enjoying the albums of theirs I have heard an impossible undertaking. The first and less important of these is their lyrics, which are rather dumbly written, comparing in writing quality to the childish, proclamatory bluntness of early Possessed or Slayer lyrics (though Mortification's advanced years and obviously serious agenda means that this makes them look unintelligent, rather than simply young and thoughtless) and, as we covered earlier, voice sentiments which I do not agree with, thus attempting to back up a system and even history which I have a number of serious issues with. The second and very central fall-down of Mortification is, quite simply, the quality of the music they create. _Hammer of God_ churns out countless -- no, scratch that -- very few boring riffs over its 50 odd minute duration, but this is because the song structures are tediously and gratuitously repetitive, not because there are any seriously good riffs in residence. The vocal performance of Steve Rowe is similarly unspectacular and lacks both character and punch. The rhythm section which implants itself behind this pitiful musical tapestry is similarly repetitive, boring and uninventive. In summation, Mortification are a bit Sinister (definitely capitalised), certainly seem to have found Benediction, and are ultimately nothing more than a weak, behind the times death metal band, running out of ideas faster than many frustrated teenagers lose their faith in God.
(article published 12/10/1999)
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