Expectation, as I’ve said before, can be a terrible thing. Massive fan excitement can lead to disappointment and revilement upon a follow-up release just as easily as it can lead to festival dates or touring opportunities, and to fail to deliver for a band such as Mortiferum, whose debut demo in 2017 opened a seemingly infinite amount of doors for them, would be the band’s death.
Fortunately, Mortiferum have not sat by idly in these last couple of years, and the strength of Disgorged From Psychotic Depths is a wonderful thing to behold. The concern in any relatively quick follow-up is always that the album was rushed to capitalize on the attention the demo material received, but that concern is ill-founded here. Disgorged’s core sound is an expansion on the demo, which itself was a crushing form of death/doom reminiscent of the more aggressive early days of the genre with some mixed in Finnish-isms. Some gloomy atmosphere and leads also popped through the mix on the demo, but here it is much more fully realized, with more atmospheric parts, leads, and melody that recall the best moody bands of the ‘90s without sinking as far into that sound as some people might be afraid reading this review. The bulk of the music is still comprised of huge death/doom riffs, and there’s far more aggression than subtlety.
The subtlety is what sets Mortiferum aside from their competition, however, so it should not be dismissed. There are only really five songs on this record, once you discount the interlude, and all but one are over seven minutes long; pulling that off requires more care than something with shorter compositions, and Mortiferum tackle that challenge with rotting energy. Powerful tremolo lines can break as easily into haunting leads as into power chords, and power chords are as likely to be the backdrop to a melody as they are to be a primitive attack on the senses. Unlike many similar bands, Mortiferum do not rely on repetition to build atmosphere, and are happy to either build on a motif or to change riffs rapidly through the course of a song to keep everything flowing. Each change is written in such a way as to feel organic, a slithering creep through dark halls (psychotic depths, perhaps?) more than a frenzied dance through the longer playtimes of the songs- though this is not to say that faster tempos are excluded from the album, and occasional fleetness of assault is used well by the band as befits some of the songs.
Though the band can clearly play their instruments, showing off their musicianship is clearly not among Mortiferum’s goals for Disgorged. Outside of some of the faster drumming sections, nothing can be called more than particularly competent, which strikes me as a good move- flashy soloing, Seinfeld bass, or drum insanity would detract from the record more than it would add, and it shows humility and good sense to leave out the noodling. Creaking bass compliments the massive riffing on the album and locks tight with the massive drums, and the rhythm section is tight enough to hold everything together whenever a single lead guitar rises above the mix to provide a touch more gloom, or to carry songs alongside the putrid low growls of the lead vocals. Almost as good as the music itself is the extremely organic production of music, which could nearly be a live performance if not for how well the drums cut through the guitars. Everything in Disgorged From Psychotic Depths feels gloriously natural, a festering darkness that emerged from evil minds rather than from a studio somewhere, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.