Mental Cruelty
A Hill To Die Upon

In the promo materials, Mental Cruelty is described as “haunting death metal.” As I’ve yet to be visited by any ghostly apparitions, I call shenanigans! However, when it comes to what style of music these dudes play, it’s more along the lines of symphonic brutal blackened deathcore. Think somewhere along the lines of Lorna Shore, Carnifex, and Shadow of Intent, then you’re basically there. However, unlike those bands, these guys inject quite a bit of the brutal slam element into the mix.

While I did hear their previous (and second overall) full-length, Inferis, unlike most of the press I read regarding it, I was unimpressed. So, with a bit of trepidation, I decided to take on their latest slab of what I mentioned in the previous paragraph, A Hill To Die Upon (not the band).

After a short intro, the first track, “Ultima Hypocrita,” starts, and it’s a proper beatdown. It’s a banger. With a chorus reminiscent of Humanity’s Last Breath, brutal death metal elements, and a cool lead that reminds me of Within The Ruins. Great start. This track kills.

The next track, “Abadon,” has a symphonic, atmospheric black metal vibe from the outset. The track itself barely tips over 6 minutes, so it is a bit on the longer side. However, the symphonics do an excellent job here of carrying the weight, including some brief moments where only they are present. The vocals take on a raspy black metal approach, along with the growls. However, a straight up symphonic black metal song this is not, as there are some brutal death metal pig squeals mixed in. That black metal blasting through the chorus hits hard, though.

Tracks 4 and 5, “Eternal Eclipse,” and “Death Worship” respectively, make quite a 1-2 punch. The former reminds me of Carnifex’s more recent material, but also leans into the brutal death metal side, so to call it a copycat would be wholly inaccurate. The latter, to these ears, sounds like a straight up brutal slam tune for a lot of it, but does not nix the blackened elements entirely. These two tracks together could give one the proper expectations for this album.

The closing track on this affair, “The Left Hand Path,” which of course always makes one think of perhaps the greatest death metal album of all time, is another scorcher. It begins with some cleanly picked guitars and great cymbal work, before turning into another blackened, symphonic metal masterclass. This is the longest track on the album at nearly 8 minutes but doesn’t feel like it. The symphonics are ever present, but the chorus itself is a standout.

Overall, dear respected readers, this is fantastic, and you should get it. While it’s not an entirely unique, “never been done before” kind of album, there are a lot of elements thrown together here and for the most part, they just work. Unique Leader is hit and miss with me, but when they hit, like with this year’s Korpse and last year’s Xenobiotic, they hit hard. A Hill To Die Upon is another and I for one can’t wait to see what these guys do next. Also, their merch game is strong, which is usually the case with Unique Leader and their ever-growing deathcore roster. Tie-dye shirts are apparently metal now, so, get up in that.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
June 10th, 2021

Comments

  1. Commented by: F.Rini

    That last sentence is the proverbial mic drop!!!


  2. Commented by: J. Mays

    Haha. Glad you liked it. Not sure where this tie dye fad started, though.


  3. Commented by: Erik T

    One of the best albums of the year. As good as Lorna Shore’s Immortal from last year, virtually idential record.


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