Review: “Hold This Mortal Coil” by Sonus Mortis

The fourth studio album from one man Symphonic Dark Metal project Sonus Mortis entitled “Hold This Mortal Coil” was written between 2017 and 2019 by Multi-Instrumentalist Kevin Byrne formerly of Valediction where he played bass, before recording in 2019. Mixed and mastered by Mick Richards in Trackmix Studios in Dublin, Ireland, it follows 2014’s “Propaganda Dream Sequence“, 2015’s “War Prophecy” and 2016’s “Hail The Tragedies Of Man” with the same team involved with all four.

Slightly eerie and sinister acoustic guitars combine to introduce “Metamorphosis” before a speech sample under Blackened Death Metal comes to life. Byrne combines some classic Black Metal unclean vocals with some 80s Dark Wave Synth styled cleans that give a the song an aching beauty while singing “I’m just a subroutine” as the twists and turns of a Thrillers plot sees the protagonist shedding skin. Album title track “Hold This Mortal Coil” is also lead in by a speech sample and acoustic guitars in elegant Black Metal style. At nearly 10 minutes long it’s a piece of epic grandeur that is thoroughly absorbing and immersing, flowing from its delicate introduction through Black Metal blast beats before a mid song melodic passage that gives it all a cinematic orchestral quality. This isn’t music for a sweaty club venue or bar, this is Albert Hall worthy. After the title track “The Descending Dealate” is four minutes shorter but no less epic. Sinister Dark Metal swirls with synths adding another dimension to the twilight zone of sounds. Byrne combines some crushing riffs roaring uncleans in a full on headbanger of a cut that increases the energy and has a stylish perfection of its own. To think that this is the all the work of a single person, all from a single mind, is unbelievable. There is no doubt that Byrne should be writing film scores if he’s not already. “Monolith” goes 90 seconds or so shorter again but has a slow burn feel that makes it seem longer, in a good way. A mid track downtuned riff section adds a nice touch before another crescendo of sound, while the melody of the pallette cleansing finale sets up the second half of the album perfectly.

The addition of David Bowie esq clean vocals to parts of “Join The Separated Symbiote” is as brilliant as it is unexpected and the song has a relentlessness to it that is fearfully addictive. Another cinematic thrill ride, it strikes a fine balance between the screaming agony of the heavier parts and elegant beauty of the melodic parts. The acoustic bridge that resonates between the two halves of the song is nothing short of incredible and the story of the wayward son is a reflective note that resonates with us all. Introducing an Organ to “My Roads Have Red Veins”  adds a ethereal quality to an already huge epic sound that soars like a phoenix from the ashes. When everything slows down to the harsh gravelly whisper and acoustic guitar alone there is a Johnny Cash esq depiction before the return to the black, cold depths. “Tota Mors Certa Est” translates from Latin as “All death is certain” sees Byrne staring into the depths of sorrow, mourning the loss of a loved one. A somber tale, it has a dark edge with the lyrics twisting like a knife into the depths of despair, questioning the presence of a supreme being who didn’t answer the call. It’s a powerful sentiment and after feeling the pain of loss, the change in direction is a classic story. The act of saying farewell is defined as “Valediction” and a 2 and a quarter minute burst of dark energy that is the after note is a ripper that might have been an unexpected finale if it wasn’t for what had come before it. “Hold This Mortal Coil” is mesmerising [8.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Metamorphosis
  2. Hold This Mortal Coil
  3. The Descending Dealate
  4. Monolith
  5. Join The Separated Symbiote
  6. My Roads Have Red Veins
  7. Tota Mors Certa Est
  8. Valediction

Hold This Mortal Coil” by Sonus Mortis is out on 30th January 2020 and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp

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