Mortal Coil

In May of last year, I review’s Skam’s Sounds of Disease – an album that perfectly encapsulated the times we were living in. A blistering, manic foray into a world of mental anguish and instability that just seemed more and more an appropriate soundtrack as the year went on.

Nearly a year later, things on the surface at least seem like we’re edging closer to some sense of “normal.” But how much of that is purely an illusion? This isn’t the first time the world has been dealt a pandemic, or gone through racial tensions that have reached a boiling point, or have had to try and bridge a seemingly endless gap of social, philosophical and moral differences, and certainly – this world is no stranger to acts of random, senseless violence carried out in the name of God or Allah, country or belief, or often for no reason at all. But perhaps we’ve never dealt with all of these things so directly, all at once – and certainly never in a digital world of social media and access to countless platforms where EVERYONE’S opinion, however unhinged or lacking in anything resembling “fact,” is able to be spread throughout the world to billions of people desperate to make any amount of sense out of everything going on around them.

My point is – while it’s easy to get excited about a return to “normal” (of course I can’t wait to go back to concerts and breweries and everything else) – there’s still PLENTY about this world that is fuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked, and the ripple effects of the last 13 months of our lives is bound to leave its mark in ways both profound, and subtle. With their new album “Mortal Coil,” Dödsrit is here to make sure none of that is forgotten.

Time pretends to heal my wounds.

So I can wither from within and never heal.

A couple changes since we’ve last heard from this one-man project from the woods of Sweden – the biggest of which being, well, it’s not a one-man project anymore. Original mastermind Christoffer Öster  has enlisted the Dutch trio of bassist Jelle Soolsma and guitarist/vocalist Georgios Maxouris (both of Destructo and Nuclear Devastation), along with drummer Brendan Duffy (ghUSa, Morvigor) full-time into the new lineup. The other change you’ll find as Mortal Coil goes on, is that Dödsrit have shifted slightly to a more pure Black Metal-leaning sound than on either of the past two efforts. They certainly haven’t abandoned the D-Beats and punkier Crust elements that have always been a big part of the band’s sound, they’re just not quite as pronounced – giving way to more blast beats and slightly cleaner guitar tones, as evidence on opener “The Third Door,” which gets right to business with layered tremolo-picked riffs and furious blasts before Christoffer surges in with his signature tortured screams. It’s a fast start out the gate, but the band really starts to cook at the 3 minute mark, when Dödsrit break things down, starting first with very simple, dissonant guitars, and piece-by-piece add elements on top with pounding, rhythmic drums, and soaring, building guitars layered one on another, until the band explodes and reintroduces itself properly with a blistering D-Beat attack that’s like injecting adrenaline directly into your eardrums. The band repeats this process once more before the end of the 11+ minute track, finishing with another epic, cathartic burst capped off by a great, melodic lead.

Drenched in blood | Shed my skin.

Throw your bones | Into my tomb.

Mend its guilt | To its cave.

Leave this body | For it is frail.

That little extra emphasis on the side of Black Metal shows itself even more on the beginning of follow-up “Shallow Graves,” with another furious tremolo-picked and blast beaten intro, that gives way into a nice little melodic, almost Viking Metal-inspired stretch. The track also features the first of Georgios’s lower, more bellowing vocal additions, serving as an effective change of pace and tone. The track also shows off some really pretty, Opeth-esque harmonized leads that seem to point to the real effect the addition of another guitarist has had on Dödsrit’s sound. I don’t remember ever hearing a lead quite like it on any previous tracks, and it sounds REALLY good here, especially through the last couple minutes of the song, where the band ramps up the intensity and the lead takes on a very traditional heavy metal vibe. These great leads and harmonies bring themselves to the forefront again on closer “Apathetic Tongues,” with another super-catchy, yet melancholic stretch that seems to carry the weight of heavy burden on it. Mighty – but with an overlaying sense of sadness and grief.

There is no way back towards all that we left in the past.

When marching forward on this cold and lonesome path.

Leading us towards our shallow tomb.

Leading us towards the hell we call our home.

“Mortal Coil” busts out yet another new development for the band – a guitar solo! It can be really easy for a band to suddenly introduce something like guitar solos to their repertoire and have it seem audacious and over-the-top, or simply just not fit in at all with the band’s sound, but in this case is done very well and flows naturally from the song. It’s almost like the band took an opportunity to really show off what they’re made of now with a full compliment of musicians behind the wheel, and I for one am totally here for it. That being said, at the end of the day, Mortal Coil mostly sticks to the formula that has been successful for the project since it’s inception: long, powerful and cathartic songs that take you to peaks of fury and rage, down to valleys of introspection and remorse, and everywhere in between. They haven’t rushed into making any drastic changes with their new roster, but instead have made some minor tweaks, little flourishes and additions that don’t necessarily change the big picture, but make noticeable impact in the moment.

So look, if you’re (justifiably) in search of something more upbeat to spring forward into a new day – this, very obviously, is not it. But a world without darkness can’t fully enjoy the light, and sometimes the best way to reach solace and joy is to persevere through the acceptance of grief and anguish. If that’s what you need in your life, I think that’s what Mortal Coil is here for, and much like Scam’s Sounds of Disease did a year ago, Mortal Coil seems a perfect fit for the world we live in. Whether you’re already a fan or just coming into Dödsrit’s radar, I can’t recommend this album enough.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
May 21st, 2021


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