MUSIC REVIEW: Sonus Mortis – Hail the Tragedies of Man (2016)

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Band Name: Sonus Mortis (Ireland)
Release Name: Hail the Tragedies of Man (Full-Length)
Genre: Symphonic / Black / Gothic / Death Metal

The final weeks of the year can be a dangerous time to release new music. With various publications taking the time away from new music to push their end of year ‘best of’ lists and look ahead to a new year, it might feel like there’s so much quality music getting missed out on due to this race to see who can put out their lists first.

Hail the Tragedies of Man, the third album from Sonus Mortis, was released right at the end of November but lots of pushes and advertising from their side meant that it didn’t fall through the cracks. Sonus Mortis is the one man project from former Valediction bassist Keven Byrne, who handles all vocals, instruments and drum programming. Since starting the project in 2013, his output has been very consistent by releasing strong albums on a yearly basis.

The album opens with the eight minute behemoth ‘Chant Demigod’ which gives us a solid introduction to the sound of Sonus Mortis. Eerie mechanized sounds entice us with some acoustic guitars creeping in. The track crisps up with the rumbling of drums and dark guitar riffs. Kevin’s growls are deep and raspy but are very intelligible, painting us dark images of the world around us. There is some grandiose orchestration used tastefully to fit with the metal music which creates a foreboding soundtrack to the end of the world.

sonus-mortis-band-photoMusically speaking the album is a melting pot of influences; the dark orchestrations of Dimmu Borgir, the heavy apocalyptic sound of The Project Hate, blackened gothic guitar melodies straight from Rotting Christ together with a sprinkling of Sisters of Mercy taking form in the clean baritone singing. All of this may sound overwhelming but Kevin has managed to balance them all in moderation in a thick wall of sound.

Elsewhere on the album ‘Null and Void’ opens with a haunting lead before being overtaken by blistering blastbeats in one of the heavier tracks which strongly leans on symphonic black metal. ‘No Escape’ is equally on the side of black metal with its frosty and harsh intro combined with the hysterical shrieks.

‘And So We Became Slaves’ has the orchestrations come across bigger and bolder than before. ‘End of Days’ is a particular standout track, almost upbeat in comparison to the rest of the album leading with a winding guitar riff rather which later breaks out into a rare but well used tapped guitar solo.

Their darker, gothic sound comes to the forefront in ‘The Great Catholic Collapse’, the guitar solo and its tone could easily be mistaken for a Paradise Lost track. ‘I See Humans but No Humanity’ is a statement that could easily be placed on much of today’s world, its blistering beats cut out for the haunting mechanized industrial sounds.

Hail the Tragedies of Man is another marked achievement in Kevin’s back catalogue that few could hope to achieve; however, it’s this strength that can also serve as his biggest weakness. At 65 minutes the album is a mammoth listen especially with such a similar sound throughout that time but that also raises another interesting issue in that it would be a very difficult task to cut any of these songs from the track listing since they’re all such great tracks in their own right; an envious problem to have.

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1. Chant Demigod
2. Null and Void
3. Subproject 54
4. No Escape
5. And So We Became Slaves Forever
6. End of Days
7. The Great Catholic Collapse
8. I See Humans But No Humanity
9. Chaos Reigns
10. Wretched Flesh, I Embrace
11. Hail the Tragedies of Man

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