Marty Mc Fly: “Woah! This is heavy”.
Doc: “There’s that word again, ‘heavy’. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth’s gravitational pull?”
Yes there is, and the source of this gravitational disturbance is Brooklyn, New York. Mortals are a three piece, the holy grail of band configurations (see Immortal, Motorhead, Behemoth and so on for further proof) who, in a fashion akin to Dr Frankenstein, take bits from the bodies of black metal, doom, and other corpses, sew them up, then give the creature life.
Their new album ‘Cursed to See the Future’ swept me away from the first listen. Prepare to be dragged under by a current of dark, infectious riffs, aggressive drumming and coarse vocals, that all fit together like M.C. Escher was their spirit animal.
I sent a few questions their way, and Lesley Wolf (Bass/Vocals) was kind enough to take time out from writing, recording, playing and just generally making Lucifer happy, to answer them.
Raz (R): Cursed to See the Future is an amazing ‘tar pit’ of sound, mixing together key elements of black, death and doom. How did you develop your sound? Did you set out to be a particular style of band which evolved in to the current blend, or did you want to incorporate different styles from the start?
LW: We’ve always incorporated different styles into our songwriting, depending on what is in our listening rotation at the time or simply to maintain our interest while playing our music. We never set out to sound like anyone or any genre specifically; the way we sound today is something that’s evolved over the course of a few years. Who knows what we’ll sound like 5 years from now? Whatever it is, we strive to keep ourselves and hopefully the listener engaged throughout.
R: The lyrics on the album are very evocative; darkness, death and the Devil all make appearances, however they are also come across as very metaphorical. My own interpretation of say, Series of Decay, is that the lyrics are a treatise on mankind’s destruction of the environment: “Ocean roll over me, Bring me out to sea” – a reference to the rise in global sea levels “Grief clouds my eyes, Greed clouds your soul” – Profits drive industry, which drives climate change “Mother, we have revoked you, Use your power. Destroy us” – The end result of a change in our environment to one no longer suitable for human life. Obviously people will read into lyrics with their own biases, resulting in different interpretations, but is there a meaning to your lyrics beyond the face value?
LW: Certainly there is my own personal meaning beyond face value of what the lyrics read as. That said, when I write my lyrics I try to make them work in a way that aren’t very literal so that people can interpret them how they so choose. Maybe Series of Decay is about our destructive actions towards the environment. Maybe not.
R: Sticking on the subject of styles and themes, who is the main creative force in the band, or are you all pretty equal when it comes to writing?
LW: We all contribute equally to the songwriting for the most part. Elizabeth is the main riff-generator. She will come in with a riff or a chunk of riffs and show them to me and Caryn, then we all three work from there. Sometimes it takes months to get to the end result of a composition; there is often a lot of back & forth figuring out what works or not. Once we have a structure that makes us all happy, I bring in my lyrics and they get layered in. Lyrics are always the final step before we bring a song to the stage.
R: ‘Cursed…’ has been released on gorgeous white vinyl. Do you feel that the format has seen a rise in popularity in recent years as a response to the disposable nature of an increasingly digital world? How do you see the future of the record industry and the sale of music in the next five to ten years?
LW: I think vinyl has been a popular format for a long time. Maybe when CD’s became a thing in the 90’s there was a surge away from collecting vinyl but now I assume it’s how most music nerds keep up their catalogs. Vinyl is always a beautiful product, the cover art is usually designed to be seen in that format, and the sound quality is far superior to a digitized version. The only “problem” with vinyl in today’s society is that it can’t be carried around with you and plugged into your eardrums whenever you feel like it. Listening to vinyl is an experience where you have to actively listen to an album, which again, is akin to how a music nerd would enjoy his or her music anyway.
R: The album artwork is amazing, and complimentary to the music. Who is the artist?
LW: Mike Lawrence. He is a phenomenal artist and illustrator based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Check out his work at http://www.mikelawrenceillustration.com and buy some of his pieces for yourself!
R: How do you feel about the current state of the music scene, in particular the extreme metal scene? Do you think it’s easier now to make a name for yourself through self-promotion and access to a worldwide audience, or do you feel that the ease of access has developed an apathetic, instant gratification and ‘short lived interest’ attitude in audiences?
LW: I would agree that there’s a bit more apathy in the current heavy music scene. The dominance of the internet now allows any band or musician to get their work out there for people to listen to if they choose. This makes for a platform awash with options and it’s difficult to sift through what’s worthwhile or not. I think self-promotion can go a long way, but sometimes what it’s backing up is total garbage. But everyone has an opinion. One person’s garbage is another’s treasure. The internet also allows for any idiot to act as a “music critic” and can mask their opinions anonymously behind a computer screen. Not really sure if I answered your question or not.
R: Do you have plans to play further afield, the UK for example?
LW: We should be there in the spring of 2015, very excited about getting over there for the first time!
R: Finally, who are you currently listening to? Can you recommend us three bands we should check out?
LW: Only three? So hard to choose. What I am listening to RIGHT NOW as I type this is Souls at Zero by Neurosis. I am always trying to change it up, but some of the current hard hitters are Nux Vomica, Bastard Sapling, and Yautja.
BurningFist and Raz would like to thank Lesley and Mortals for their time!
I really can’t recommend this album enough, if you’re a fan of anything remotely heavy you really should invest some time in this band, you won’t be disappointed.