Mortician (United States Of America) – Chainsaw Dismemberment

I can’t say that this is as good as ‘Hacked Up For Barbecue’; that LP is a classic and completely unique in its style.  ‘Chainsaw Dismemberment’ is a sort of step back in Mortician’s unique sound (which would be a step forward for anyone else), and stands as a much more ‘conventional’ and much more ‘metal’ album than their first.  It’s not so much a matter of the band ‘evolving’ as much as it is trading various qualities around: aggression has replaced atmosphere, additional heaviness has replaced chaos, and, in general, convention has replaced some of the things that made the first Mortician album so unique and great.

That being said, it’s still Mortician, and they’re not really capable of making anything but Mortician music.  Nothing much changes from album to album unless you’ve listened to them a few thousand times each (I have).  The first thing to notice is that the production is a great deal different from that on the first release.  The guitar tone is completely blown out and overly distorted, much like the last few tracks on the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ EP.  Combined with the ultra-downtuning, the tremolo riffs that dominate the music are even more unintelligible and noisy than before.  Strangely enough, despite how low the guitars are, they seem to now take up the treble area of the music’s dynamic range.  Filling this in is the tectonic bass presence, which, ironically, actually has a perceptible tone with distinguishable riffs now.  It’s still distorted to death, but it’s not quite the pile of noise that it was before.  Rahmer’s vocals have remained unchanged, and are just as low and imperceptible as ever, while the clacking programmed drums are just as they always were: ultra-fast, obviously machine-made, and with a weird breed of subtlety during the more mid-paced motions which shows that Mortician actually wants the drums to be programmed like a real drummer would play them.

This isn’t nearly as atmospheric as ‘Hacked Up For Barbecue’; it lacks that album’s obvious malevolence and feel of complete bloodlust.  This does, however, have a fuckton more aggression than the first LP.  Never before has Mortician sounded so unbelievably furious and hateful, and here the blasting sections really give off a true vibe of misanthropy and death.  It’s fortunate that they replaced the atmosphere with SOMETHING, because without the aggression to fill the space, the album would be really lacking as the songwriting seems to have gotten weaker.  None of the tracks are very memorable; well, ‘Island Of The Dead’ maybe simply because it’s obviously designed to be this album’s ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ in its slowness and chugginess, but it doesn’t have that legendary track’s main riff to back it up.  The rest of the tracks are more or less in the vein of Mortician’s more grinding, blasting works, but those blasting sections have fortunately been made more interesting via aggression, and, paradoxically, this is much more of a death metal album than ‘Hacked Up For Barbecue’ ever was.

While it’s a step down from the sublime perfection that was the first album, ‘Chainsaw Dismemberment’ is still as remarkably single-minded and barbaric as ever.  What it lacks in standout tracks it makes up for with unbridled fury to a point that’s nearly impossible to find in the metal scene.  ‘Hacked Up For Barbecue’ is the album that every metalhead needs to hear; ‘Chainsaw Dismemberment’ is the one you should grab after it if you already like what you know of Mortician.

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~ by noktorn on February 5, 2008.

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