Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, black, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, heavy, speed, progressive, stoner, retro, post-, punk/, -core, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen we let ourselves sink into the inescapable darkness of Olympia’s Mortiferum.
Featuring the likes of Alex Mody from Ēōs on drums, Dan Fried from Predatory Light, ex-Anhedonist on bass, with Chase Slaker and Max Bowman from Bone Sickness on guitars, Mortiferum’s debut, Altar of Decay, isn’t just a demo. It’s a cataclysmic event.
“When executed properly, the potency of death/doom is hard to match and contains a certain substance that is not as present in many other forms of extreme music,” says Bowman, who’s also the lead vocalist for Mortiferum. “It’s fucking crushing, really. That’s basically what I get from the genre. [Chase Slaker and I] had been talking about this idea for years, even before we played in Bone Sickness together. We knew we wanted to try something with slower parts, with an emphasis on eerie harmonies, and letting riffs breathe a little more. . . I ran into Alex [Mody] and we talked about our shared love for bands such as Rippikoulu, Thergothon, Disembowelment, and how it would be cool to start a death/doom band embellished with some classic finnish DM influences like Abhorrence, Demilich, Disgrace, etc.”
“We had actually jammed with [Mody] years prior in a failed attempt to start this band,” relates Slaker, Mortiferum’s other guitarist, “but the timing was bad and it didn’t go anywhere. This time around, things clicked and we were quickly writing deadly tracks for the demo. When it came time to find a bassist, we knew Dan [Fried] would be the perfect fit and were pretty dead set on getting him involved. Luckily for us, he was willing to give it a shot despite his insanely busy schedule and having to commute in shitty traffic from Seattle for practice. Dan filled out the sound with his massive bass tone and made some important arrangement contributions as well.”
With their line-up nailed down and their songs ready, Mortiferum turned to one Mr. Ethan Camp to record their demo. (Camp also plays synth for Mortiferum sometimes. Whenever he can, according to Mody.)
“I mostly work with a mobile recording rig, and that’s what I did for Mortiferum,” says Camp. “A lot of bands like it because they can just stay set up where they rehearse. It makes scheduling super easy and the whole session very comfortable and chill. With these dudes, it was very much just like kicking it with my homies and pressing record. And it didn’t hurt that their particular space sounds great for drums! As for recording other death metal bands, this demo was really my first. I’ve done other styles of metal including types of doom and black though.
“We tracked dual guitars and drums completely live in one room,” Camp continues, “and then overdubbed solos, bass, and vocals. Guitarist Max Bowman got wasted and did vocals in drummer Alex Mody’s kitchen, which was sick. Alex’s house is also where we did the rest of the tracking. The mixing process was mostly us hanging out at my home studio and doing fucked up shit to the vocals and drums.”
At four tracks, Altar of Decay is truly a consummate demo. It came out only a week ago, but sounds and feels like something that existed before many of us had ever even heard death metal. And for once that has little to do with the demo’s production. Altar of Decay undeniably sounds old school, as well, but deeper than that, there’s something pathologically true and earnestly deadly about Mortiferum’s demo. Moments of familiarity wield no results when you search your mind for what bands such moments remind you of, as if Mortiferum have dredged up these deeply buried shadow archetypes and transposed them into death-doom crushers.
Those of you desperate for a physical copy will have to hold out a few more torturous weeks. “The pro tapes will be available from Graceless Recordings soon and we’ll have shirts and pins available at shows and on our Bandcamp in coming weeks,” says Mody. While our west coast readers will delight in learning that Mortiferum will soon hit the road with fellow Demo:listen-ites Fetid. Not to mention, a Mortiferum full length is already in the works. In the meantime, keep your eyes stapled wide open for when those tapes to go up for sale. You don’t need ol’ Demo:listen to tell you they won’t be around for long.
Check this space next and every Friday for another killer demo.