Review: Mithridatum ‘Harrowing’

To my delight there has been a spate of excellent disso-death being released over the past few years, with great releases from Artificial Brain, Acausal Intrusion, Worm Mantle, Ad Nauseam, Ulcerate and Aeviterne all seeping through my earphones and purely designed to simultaneously twist and turn my feeble being whilst also absorbing that feeble being into a black hole.

Mithridatum 'Harrowing'

That should give you an idea of what disso-death is… if it doesn’t, then basically it’s death metal that’s incredibly technical and doesn’t exercise the normal verse, chorus, verse that you would usually attribute to the genre, instead it’s a lot more free flowing, dense and exploits more angular and atonal riffs that swirl against the dissonance. It’s abrasive, engaging and strangely beautiful.

This genre has been a regular in my end of year lists and I’ve got another entry into this genre to discuss with you today, courtesy of American three-piece Mithridatum. It’s their debut album, it’s titled Harrowing and will be released on February 3rd via Willowtip Records. Featuring members of Abhorrent and The Faceless (no, thankfully not that one, no endless drama here folks), the group describe the record as ‘Through mercurial waves beneath the moon’s mournful glow, a trinity of incarnate beings that embody Mithridatum have conjured forth the entity known as Harrowing, an auditory pilgrimage traversing a gloomscape leaden with dissonance, despondency, isolation, entropy… into the abyss’ and if that doesn’t sell it to you… then we’re very different people.

a cacophonous, abrasive beast that oozes atmosphere…

What you’ll notice straight away with Harrowing is the excellent production, it sounds almost like everything has been placed exactly on the same level, which means nothing is buried in the mix, all the instrumentation is clear and has meaning. This allows the trio to create a wonderfully ethereal, yet intrusive atmosphere. It’s utterly despondent, this is perfectly embodied by the frankly incredible instrumentation, the guitar work is excellent, nailing those angular and atonal lines to draw the listeners ear all over the shop. Mithridatum also throw in the odd stomper of a riff as well, like two minutes into Silhouette is absolutely crushing and super infectious!

The pacing is also great, it’s chaotic, yet at times passive, leading to a great listener experience. The way the drums literally roll into temp changes is clever and sound just great, the mixture of drumming styles and the guitar work all build together to create that immersive dissonant sound that I just can’t get enough of, you’ll find yourself hitting rewind to listen to a particular section again and again, which is always a compliment. There’s actually quite a bit of melody here too, Mournful Glow is an emotionally packed track that trudges and grows into a cacophonous, abrasive beast that oozes atmosphere.

I love this genre, it’s been around a long time and has some serious pedigree, but it’s natural, against the grade attitude, consistently produces excellent records and this is no exception. Harrowing is a killer album and after twenty or so listens and hours of enjoyment, it still hasn’t got old so for me. That’s a pretty good seal of approval.

Label: Willowtip Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp

Scribed by: Matt Alexander