Coffins – Mortuary In Darkness

This album is so good that its dominion over the legions of other Celtic Frost/Hellhammer/oldschool doom/death worshiping bands out there is almost unquestionable.  It’s only twenty years from now that we’ll have sufficiently advanced as a species to have words that can adequately describe how brilliant this album is.  Not since Sunn O))) has there been a band with such a distinctly physical impact on the listener; the tracks on ‘Mortuary In Darkness’ are so heavy that it seriously feels at times like your ribcage is getting crushed under massive slabs of black granite while icy, demonic vomit is funneled directly down your throat.  Why the fuck Razorback released this makes no sense to me but thank god they decided to between Ghoul and Blood Freak represses.

I don’t even fucking understand how these three guys managed to wrestle such a horrifically filthy and sludgy guitar tone out from the musical aether.  It’s not just the guitar, I guess; the fact that there’s an almost too-loud bass with just a hint of overdriven growl to it gives the content that much more weight, and the always perfectly timed and necessarily restrained drum performance manages to propel things along just as much as they need to.  And then you put Uchino’s post-Warrior grunting over it and it’s pretty much all over for me; I just admit to these guys kicking my ass up and down the metal block and don’t even attempt to find anything to criticize.  Because really, there’s nothing TO criticize when faced with the enormity of the aesthetic perfection found on this record.  There’s never been an album with a production job and instrumental tone that so perfectly matches its purpose before this moment, and I doubt it’ll get any better from there.

There’s really only three or so things Coffins does: slow, crawling, atonal doom sections ala ‘Mental Funeral’-era Autopsy, chugging Celtic Frost grooves, and more uptempo bits reminiscent of Hellhammer plus a helping of oldschool, ugly crust punk.  The beauty is really in how they switch between these three styles seamlessly, and how despite how few notes there really are on this album and how seemingly predictable it seems to be, it never gets old.  The riffs here are mind-bendingly simple, to the point where they couldn’t possibly be original.  They have to be pulling this stuff from somewhere, because the riffs are so instantly classic that they can’t have just been thought up in 2005.  Whether or not the riffs are original is pretty immaterial though, because, as I said before, they’ve mastered the musical lexicon of this style so perfectly that any conventional judgment ceases to be relevant.  I can only imagine the amount of time spent pouring over old Winter and Amebix CDs in preparation for this, it’s just so damn ridiculously flawless in every way.

The stuff on this record is a bit more strictly doom oriented than some of the band’s later work; there’s only one real consistently uptempo track in pseudo-opener ‘Slaughter Of Gods’ and a bit at the beginning of ‘Sacrifice To Evil Spirit’ with some other sections sprinkled around.  Later records by these guys show more indulgence in the crusty parts, which is fine by me as they do ALL of them so well.  The standout track to me is really ‘The Unspeakable Pain’; the main riff is up there with that of Mortician’s ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ in the ‘it just doesn’t get heavier than this’ category.  It’s all sick though; ‘Mortuary In Darkness’ has an incredibly precise momentum behind it that allows it to change tempo and rhythm at exactly the right moment, ‘Torture’ is the most inaccessible track with the Autopsy death-sludge done exactly right (much more consistently than country (and later, split)-mates Anatomia), and the closer has a good feeling of finality about it, ending the album right when you felt like your heart was going to explode.

It’s really an album that defies any attempt at conventional analysis and just has to be heard to be believed; these guys ‘get it’ right down to their fucking logo which is threateningly spikey but also psychedelically concaved just to freak you out that much more when you’re listening to it and staring at the cover at three in the morning.  It’s really great and if you’re not an ardent ‘Meshuggah and nothing else’ sort of metalhead you really owe it to yourself to acquire this immediately.

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~ by noktorn on July 17, 2008.

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