Mord’A’Stigmata – Hope (Released February 17, 2017 – Pagan Records)
Hailing from Bochnia, Poland, Mord’A’Stigmata are part of an appalling wave of Polish metal that stretches from the metal gods that are Behemoth to up and comers such as Yliaster. Settled comfortably in their own sound of big washy riffs and claustrophobic atmospheres Mord’A’Stigmata have added another thoughtful chapter to this devastating and innovating scene with Hope.
Heavily atmospheric in composition and post-metal in delivery, the titular track kicks of Hope with machine like drumming and upbeat riffs. A rolling darkness overtakes the track and it becomes strained; life becomes frayed and strenuous as victory is just out of reach. In the reverberating atmosphere, a drum pounds at even increments while cool leads play over top of a thudding bass line. Echoing spoken word vocals and marching palm muted riffs intertwine and single plucked notes phase in and out. Hope, the track, is multifaceted as Mord’A’Stigmata have the pure talent to produce atmosphere from both massive riffs and washing tremolo’s and drums. The track does become repetitive at its end as the same riffs are played end-over-end with equally spaced plucks and hammering drums. Slow and ominous, The Tomb of Fear and Doubt conveyed a malevolent purpose with dissonant riffs and heavy, demonic vocals. There is a terrifying intent within the track, the atmosphere was neither crushing nor oppressive, yet there was an inviting evil, a terrifying demon inside the body of a sideshow joker, pure malice rolling under the surface of something appearing benign. Shedding malevolence the album jumped into To Keep the Blood. Inviting and groovy the track is a clear demand to headbang at its opening. Even though To Keep the Blood is the shortest track on the album, some pieces could have been left on the cutting room floor as the atmosphere drug long and the shouting growls needed more emotion. Delving into doom, In Less Than No Time was a crushing closer for Hope. The whispered vocals and palm muted runs gave way to a peak of thundering drums and massive riffs. The track closed with alien like leads, sustained and piercing, which left me craving a solo.
An up and down album, Hope was menacing and evil, powerful and terrifying but, in some instances tossed aside the goodness it cultivated by failing to self-censor and allowed tracks to over stay their welcome. The timing is a minor complaint as I was both buoyed by the washing emotion of tremolos and crushed by marching riffs. Goddamn, do I ever love Polish metal!