2018 has been a good year for Extreme Metal so far and the debut EP from Mordant Rapture, entitled ‘The Abnegation’, is no exception. Brutal, blisteringly-paced Symphonic Death Metal with a heavily European flavour, despite the band hailing from San Jose, California, this 5-track EP, released via The Artisan Era label, is just a taster of what is to come from this highly talented group.
Opening track ‘Unsightly Beast’ begins in a strictly classical manner, kicking off with a solo piano piece, before introducing a string section that leads the listener into the first stabs of foreboding heaviness & harsh vocals. The ferocity soon picks up with a cacophony of insanely technical guitar refrains, rapid-fire blast beats and expertly cadenced vocals. The guitar solos are sublime, momentarily lifting the song from the fiery apocalyptic pit in which it dwells, before plunging right back into the chaos until the close.
The relentlessness continues in ‘Withered’, which breezes through with absolutely no filler, with just under 3 minutes as its total running time. All the bombast of the orchestral passages blends effortlessly with the brutal yet highly technical Metal framework surrounding it. It’s hard not to be immersed in the rich textures and atmosphere.
Reaching the mid-point, ‘A Plea Above Ashes’ is an interlude track offering a brief moment of respite, featuring a sombre, lamenting piano passage alongside an ominous string section that plays out to end on a drone, ushering in the next wave of brutality to follow.
‘Quell The Voiceless’ is a masterclass of musicianship and composition. It’s fair to say that comparisons can be drawn to Italian masters of Extreme Symphonic Metal, Fleshgod Apocalypse, particularly the material of their ‘Agony’ & ‘Labyrinth’ albums. Here you get nasty, dissonant chugging guitars, along with a peppering of arpeggiated lead guitar. Adding a rich texture to the track are the returning symphonic strings, then, for the first time on the EP, the introduction of a choral section, featuring both legato harmonies and snappy, staccato stabs.
The final song, entitled ‘Natal Trophies’, opens with a dark, oppressive orchestral passage and less frantic (than usual) percussion. Whilst the bleak, melancholic tone remains ever-present throughout the piece, the steady pace gives way and the brutality kicks in, providing a furious audio assault on the senses with only momentary respites to provide brief glimpses of the signature motif. As the heaviness subsides near to the close, the strings, choral section and piano are left to play out, as if the chaos has subsided, leaving the dust to settle so to speak whilst allowing the listener’s mind to reflect on the music they have just witnessed.
The Abnegation EP is an absolute beast, helped along by superb production values that capture both the rich textures of the orchestral arrangements and the pummelling heaviness of the extreme Metal in equal measure. Neither has been compensated for – the mix is quite frankly sublime. Essentially, this is a fantastic debut outing for a band displaying heaps of talent and what could potentially be a glimpse at what to expect with their first full-length album, which I understand is already being composed at the time of writing this review, according to the band’s recent activity on social media. I’m sure for their current, rapidly growing fan-base, the release of their first album can’t come soon enough – I know I’m looking forward to more news & sneak peeks over the coming months, that’s for certain.
To anyone who appreciates classical & symphonic music as much as they do their extreme Metal, I would urge you to listen to the EP via the player below – as of publication, digital & CD formats are currently available to purchase from their Bandcamp page, including a new batch of merch featuring the incredible artwork for The Abnegation, created by Nathan Lee.
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Quell The Voiceless [Official Lyric Video]