Mortemia - Misere Mortem
Napalm Records
Gothic Metal
9 songs (40'35")
Release year: 2010
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex

There is absolutely no doubt the Napalm Records label knows a thing or two when it gets to gothic metal. They were the major purveyors of the genre when it was fresh and original, somewhere around the late 90s/on the cusp of this century. When I became peripherally interested in gothic metal sometime in year 2000 or so, I was lucky enough to stumble over a Napalm Records sampler called Cutting Edge. In that one thoughtful compilation the label managed to collect all who were worthy of attention in the gothic scene of the time. Trail of Tears, Vintersorg with A Dialogue with the Stars from their unmatched to date Cosmic Genesis, Hollenthon, Lacrimas Profundere (yes, they were interesting before they shifted to gothic pop rock), Summoning (!) and, of course, Tristania. The latter was the brainchild of two young Norwegians, Morten Veland and Einar Moen. Whatever the travails of those two were, Morten left after a few very memorable albums and created another noteworthy gothic outfit Sirenia, however, the latter never reached Tristania’s status in my lukewarm-to-all-things-gothic wit.

Guess what, Morten Veland is not done in the gothic metal dominion. I can’t be the one to explain all of his reasons behind Mortemia creation, but it is a fact that this man has more gothic in him than the tallest Middle Ages cathedral in Europe. With Sirenia it felt a bit that Morten has shot his wad way too quickly, and after the first pair of albums the downward slide begun. Proving me wrong, showing that his holster is still full with gothic bullets, Mortemia sees Morten go at it all alone, and in the process returning way back to where Tristania started.

Misere Mortem captures well that fine balance between orchestral arrangements and heaviness indicative of high quality gothic metal. Catchy distinctive riffs (The Chains That Wield My Mind, The Malice Of Life's Cruel Ways) comfortably co-inhabit songs next to classic melodies and symphonic outbursts. Cinematic sound at the beginning of The Eye Of The Storm and its pulsating rhythms make an impression just like the heavier, more apocalyptic, The Wheel Of Fire does with its cymbal crushes. This album has big sound and is impeccably produced (apparently by Morten Veland himself). The songs sound deep, resonant, grandiose and just a bit pompous and pretentious, which in the context of gothic metal is a good thing.

Striking down the common cliché of needing a female lead, Mortemia only utilizes harsh, but very legible, male vocals and an inordinate amount of choirs, both male and female. With his Stanneish vocals and guitar given quite a centerstage, Misere Mortem with its choir-laden propensity comes off as a mixture of Gothenburg influence and Therion circa Theli and Vovin on some of the songs (The Eye Of The Storm, The New Desire).

In all of the polish, pomp and circumstance Misere Mortem left behind a bit of a personal touch and romanticism. Not claiming that Beyond the Veil had to be recreated, but those violin leads sounded downright magical. Big concert hall symphonic, instead of a private chamber music, the album’s compositions, when played on repeat can sound slightly distant and too much without a chink in them to appeal to a delicate side. Still, those who are heavily into gothic metal, and I have many female friends who would only listen to that style when it gets to metal music, should definitely put Mortemia on the list. When the music is quality, whether it is my preferred style or not, I have to state the facts as they are.

Killing Songs :
The Eye Of The Storm, The Wheel Of Fire
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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