Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Mortals/Repellers - ‘Split’ EP (Review)

Album Type: Split EP
Date Released: 10/03/2015
Label: Broken Limbs Recordings

‘Split’ LP//DD track listing:

1. Mortals - 10 Years of Filth
2. Repellers - Descend
3. Repellers - From Jericho to Ai
4. Repellers - False Solace

Mortals is:

Lesley Wolf | Bass, Vocals
Elizabeth Cline | Guitar, Vocals
Caryn Havlik | Drums

Repellers is:

Rob Peraitis | Bass, Vocals
Tony Secreto | Drums, Vocals
Jon Rifenburg | Guitar Vocals


Mortals are one of the most exciting bands of the last several years. While they’ve been around for five years, their 2014 album ‘Cursed to See the Future’ through Relapse Records was one of the great albums of the year, and for many—myself included—it was their first exposure to the band. Now they’re back with a split EP on Broken Limbs recordings with Philadelphia’s Repellers.

Mortals starts the EP off in fantastic fashion with their sole contribution, “10 Years of Filth”. The track largely follows the same formula from ‘Cursed to See the Future’, a potent blend of High on Fire style sludge and melodic black metal. They also continue to write longer songs in a kind of movement-style arrangement rather than verse chorus. “10 Years of Filth” is a smorgasbord of towering riffs and thunderous drums, from its early sludge stampede to the borderline thrash and black metal section that makes up the songs later stages.

Every member of Mortals plays a vital role. Vocalist/bassist Lesley Wolf’s coarse howl has all the power and savagery of later-era Chuck Schuldiner, but she also knows when to lay out and let the music carry the moment. Elizabeth Cline’s guitar work is deceptively simple-sounding. Having seen her bring these riffs to life in a live setting sees her seemingly doing the guitar work of two people, with sprawling, layered chords. Drummer Caryn Havlik’s varied drumming approach is equally impressive. While she certainly hits as hard as anyone, she’s also has an exceptional mind for crafting unique rhythms and drum beats within a heavy metal framework. It should go without saying that this split deserves a listen based on this track alone. Luckily, the split would warrant an easy recommendation even if this were just a Repellers EP.

Repellers have been active for a few years now, though they’ve only put out short-form releases to this point. This split is my first exposure to the band, but it’s clear they're onto something with their crusty melodic death metal approach. “Descend” is anchored by alternating riffs that would sound at home on an early Amon Amarth or (forgive the obscure reference) Prophanity album, complemented by some His Hero is Gone style crust throughout.

Elsewhere, Repellers evoke the moodiest material of crust legends Misery and late 90s Impaled Nazarene, all while giving their own unique spin on things and gracefully avoiding coming across as a band too closely tied to their influences. One can’t help but see great things for Repellers as time goes on, as they’ve got all the pieces in play for a fantastic full length some day. Repellers is a band on the ascent that absolutely demands your attention if you have any interest in the genres they blend.

While there are definitely splits where one band is clearly at a higher level than the other, that isn’t really the case here. You might have an inclination towards one band or the other based on genre preference, but these are two bands making excellent music, and that’s all you can really ask for on a release like this.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

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