Mortuary Drape - Spiritual Independence - (4/10)
Published on November 4, 2014
Having completed several sittings of Mortuary Drape’s Spiritual Independence—the legendary Italians’ first album in 10 years and only their fifth in a career that stretches back almost three decades—I found myself confronted by a single question: what in the hell happened to the ‘comeback’? The triumphs of Carcass and Accept in recent years may perhaps prove otherwise but from where I’m sitting most ‘comebacks’ of recent times have been tremendous comedowns that serve only to reinforce the admittedly cynical notion that when the impetus remains but the spark is gone, it’s time to hang up the guitar and put away the mic. Music suffers when musicians do nothing but go through the motions. Look no further than the abortive comeback efforts of Détente, Gehenna, Defiance, Tad Morose and Metal Church, among others. Sad as it is, and harsh as it may sound, but based on this mess of an album Mortuary Drape deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those once great bands mentioned above.
If anything, Mortuary Drape have always represented one of those instances in which the idea behind the band takes precedence over the actual music, as their flair of the theatrical and penchant for putting out music steeped in such obscure mysticism you’d swear it was recorded in a dank subterranean dungeon somewhere have no doubt created an aura of almost mythical proportions around them that, more often than not, deflected from some of their musical shortcomings. Listening to Spiritual Independence it becomes clear that the erstwhile charm of their music had given way to pastiche. That they were coasting by on creative fumes was already evident on 2004’s Buried in Time, which saw them inexplicably ditching their trademark occult-flavored black/doom of yore in favor of mechanical thrash, and frankly Spiritual Independence is even more offensive – a crude weld of galloping thrash rhythms and turgid death/doom that fails to get the best out of either.
The defiantly monochromatic riffs, rigid adherence to a slightly above mid-pace tempo and mainman Wilderness Perversion’s buried (not to mention annoyingly echo-ridden) vocals make for an aggressively mediocre album. With the exception of the admittedly superfluous intro and a brief melodic break near the end of “Natural Death (1930-2011)” there is absolutely nothing on here that stands out. There is a fine line between hypnotic and monotonous and Mortuary Drape sadly tumbles headlong over the wrong side of the fence into infinitely dull pastures. To think this is the same band that put out the gloriously atmospheric Into the Drape EP and the technical tour de force that was Secret Sudaria! These gormless riffs and rhythms are essentially what you’d get if you take any of Darkthrone’s post-The Cult is Alive albums, increased the distortion and completely removed the knowing wink-wink-dudge-nudge sense of self-awareness. Together with Judas Priest and Morbid Angel they should just chuck in the towel lest they continue to soil their once good name.