Mitochondrion – Through Cosmic Gaze

Mitochondrion is another Canadian group who could not possibly be from any other country. The style of technical death metal they play is completely Vinlandic in nature; there’s no way at all to mistake it for anywhere else. The influences here are completely clear: Kataklysm, Martyr, Gorguts, and other legendary Canadian death metal bands. And best of all, this is really good, and even, though I hate to use the word, quite unique.

This is a band entirely based around atmosphere via performance. Mitochondrion appears to be going for the sort of feel that bands like Internal Suffering and Origin strive for: a sort of abstract, pummeling chaos. The cover art is a fantastic depiction of what’s going on in this EP: ordinary humans gazing into the gaping maw of some Lovecraftian abyss, completely beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. The music embodies a spirit of true, inexorable entropy that you would hear in a band like Internal Suffering. Riffing is primarily chainsaw tremolo, playing surreal, atonal melodies in long, black metal derived streams of notes. The riffs seem almost to be composed like ‘From Wisdom To Hate’-era Gorguts, with a combination of normal songwriting and a sort of experimental, abstract edge. Drumming is death metal based, but has, like many Canadian artists, a militaristic edge, along with some strange cymbal play reminding one of Cryptopsy. Vocals are actually the closest to Sylvain Houde that I’ve heard outside of early Kataklysm: the same seemingly multitracked roars and screams are used to great effect.

The title track expresses the band’s aim perfectly. Packed with epic, swirling tremolo riffing and thundering drum performance under guttural vocals, it’s positively vicious. I like the production a lot: the vocals have a good deal of reverb-induced acoustic space, heightening the otherworldliness of the music here. Really, just listen to the riffs: they sound like they were teleported from the Xen world of computer game ‘Half-Life’. It combines the crooked, sinister construction of early Morbid Angel with the spaciness and atonality of Martyr to create a set of unbelievably dark and inherently demented riffs. This music is the soundtrack to the epic that Lovecraft never wrote, only replacing the slow buildup and elaborate descriptions with pure, unbridled chaos. And yet the music itself is not very chaotic, at least not in the Internal Suffering way: despite how strange and deformed it all is, it’s unfailingly coherent and surprisingly easy to grasp on the first listen. It’s not catchy: far from it. But it does make sense and stay memorable due to all the twists and turns in each song.

I consider this to be Wormed covering Kataklysm, minus some of the more ridiculous elements of brutality. This exchanges quantum physics for a sort of time-traveling shamanism. It’s mystical music: not in the black metal way of nature and dark forces, but in the very entropy and unbelievably chaotic yet real nature of the universe itself. If music is measured by how well it transports you to another world, this would certainly be nearing the level of finest death metal release ever made. With other considerations taken into account, it’s merely very, very good.

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~ by noktorn on September 20, 2007.

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