There’s something to be said about the word “classic” these days. It’s a word that is used to describe a lot of undeserving stuff in a variety of mediums, especially within the underground metal scene. In fact, the overuse of the word has resulted in it being diluted and having less meaning to a vast majority of people. A number of projects have tagged the word along to whatever sound they’re going for without any real education or knowledge of what it really means, for the sole, vain purpose of trying to gain followers and push records. So, with that being said, let’s talk about Mausoleum, a long standing project split between the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and what it means to have the “classic” Death Metal sound. Sewn together from the rotting remains of Incantation, Disciples of Mockery, Morpheus Descends and Gorephobia, Mausoleum have been butchering their way across the underground circuit since 2001. Over the course of their fourteen year career, they’ve put out two full lengths, numerous splits and also managed to emit their decaying, plague-filled sound into such acts as Engorge, Morpheus Descends and Typhus. With that being said, it’s obvious that this is a project formed and driven by the love of one, absolute thing: Death Fucking Metal.
The first song up is a cover of “Intense Mortification,” originally written by Impetigo, which will be featured on a split with Haemophagus later this year. If there ever was a recent text-book example of that “classic” death metal sound, this song would be it. Even though it’s a cover, Mausoleum have their own bloody fingerprints all over it, without it being just a paste and copy of the original material. Which, in all honesty, is a rather hard thing to do when covering an older Death Metal band. It instantly brought me back to my younger years, when I first started delving into a sub-culture that scared the shit out of me due to graphic album covers and a vast misunderstanding of what metal culture was all about. Their take on this song focuses on the tight main riff and the groove of it, which makes it perfect for front-row headbanging and instantly establishes their rotting, flesh-consuming sound, regardless of it being a cover. An awesome ode to a time long past for many of us, which should be appreciated by aficionados and Hessians of all things macabre.
Next up on the mortuary slab for dissection is their half of the Kathgor split, titled “Curse of the Rotten.” Straying from their other offering on this review, “Curse…” starts off a bit slower than one would expect from them, even breaking into some Doom territory, before they unleash into a mid-tempo assault. Add in some really tight, technical guitar work and pounding drums which allow the song to breath a little bit within the confines of what “Death Metal” sounds like and you have yet another gruesome offering by this band. A definite showcasing of their ability to pull ideas and concepts from their latter projects, especially Incantation. A song perfect for spending lonely, frozen nights alone while infecting your mind with heavy amounts of THC and perhaps fantasizing a little too much about Richard Ramirez-inspired fantasies. A sickening track in all ways, with an attention to keeping it catchy and brutal, rather than displays of extreme fret board acrobatics through out the song. Not to say that they’re not proficient at their instruments or afraid to show off, it’s just that they don’t need to unless the song calls for it. Which at certain points, it does. It’s just never overplayed and never overstays its welcome.
With their history as group, nostalgia is something one might feel while listening to both of these songs. Mausoleum have a very classic, 90’s death metal sound, but their experience creates a definite fresh take on this style of metal. I’ve seen this band in the live setting and they put on a damn good show, which is something a number of bands should learn how to fucking do these days. They’re engaging, honest and play with their rotting, shriveling hearts for all to see and it shows. You can feel every guttural growl and hear every snap of their neck as they unleash their asperity upon the crowd. Add into that the fact that this band has been at it for over a decade and is still digging up and desecrating graves with a smile, which just adds a solemn nod of recognition to their undying love of what they do. Following these two split EPs, Mausoleum will be unveiling their latest, grotesque third full length, which has been yet to be named. So let’s all join our dirty hands together and prepare to gorge upon the entrails of what this classic-sounding, modern abomination of death metal will unleash.