Mithridatum Harrowing

Mithridatum - Harrowing


Sometimes it takes only one song to understand a record – and sometimes that song is not the opener. In the case of Mithridatum‘s record Harrowing is surely wasn‘t. However, that one track that made me get the whole record has all the ingredients that this record stands for – intricate riffs somewhere on the grid between Death and Doom Metal, good, powerful growls and shattering shrieks but most of all … want to know what? Well, read on!

Texan-based Dissonant Death Metal entity Mithridatum have released their debut record via Willowtip in early February and since then I have been enjoying the hell out of this remarkable record, because it has something that not a lot of genre-affiliated bands can proclaim: a man doing bass and drums on the record (wonder how they’ll do it live?!) who’s seemingly a machine with 8 arms. Lyle Cooper surely understands how rhythm works, how it can be shifted and how as certain instability in the beat pattern can embiggen the listening pleasures over the course of many spins. By the way – you might want to get good headphones or otherwise you will not get all those jumps, licks, fills and shifts Cooper gives you throughout these five songs crossing the 35 minute bar just slightly. Which song did I hint at above? Later.

Not trying to diminish the abilities of either Marlon Friday on the guitar nor Geoff Ficco on vocal duties – but Lyle is the mastermind behind the band and also the main songwriter, with Geoff writing these lyrics full of despair, trauma, shock, and loneliness. The songs are somewhat harrowing and haunting, but only if taken at face value. For underneath the dissonance and the perfect grunts and screams one can discover a strongly Doom-infused path through all of these tracks.

Oh, you want to know which track struck with me that much? Well, it was ”Mournful Glow”. But later onto that one in detail, first I want to point out that the dissonant parts on Harrowing are noisey and sometimes stand out because of their intended disharmony but they are never as disruptive as with bands like Ulcerate or Veilburner, heck sometimes you might even hear some resemblance to Deathspell Omega. No, there seems to be some kind of harmony behind their usage here, sometimes it feels like their sequence is part of an over-arching melody that radiates some calm over the ultra-poignant and dominant drums.

And here we now come to ”Mournful Glow”, because the drums are what made me fall in love with this record and I sometimes find myself listen to this song five or six times in a row. Albeit, this is not an easy-access hit single, because, come on, which Dissonant Death Metal track could always be that? Nonetheless, the drumming on this track is really standing out because it is highly shifty and mostly anti-rhythm, in the sense that is follows no count, no structure, but seems to be based largely on intuition. I would not be surprised if this track was a by-product of a solo jam session of Cooper’s when he was experimenting with shifting beats into each other and then making them overlap so much that neither structure remained audible. You can find blastbeats galore in this track, but also some nearly-tribal elements, and even some shifty punkish counterparts and some difficult stuff that the jazz-cats of old might pull off, but I deem it hardly impossible to count anything here. The guitar lines are dissonantly melodic (as mentioned above), using many glittering effects without being overtly heavy – most of the heaviness on this record stems from the drums. The ghostly haunting vocals of course contribute immensely to the song but to point it out once more – on this track everything is dominated by the man behind the drum-kit.

So, now you know which track made me feel like butterflies – with leaden wings. Wonderful. Listen to the whole record though, because maybe you like one of the other four tracks more. Nevertheless, I am pretty sure, the effect will be the same. You will listen to the record over and over again!