Review: “Dress Code Blood” by Mordkaul

Adorned by cover art from Russian artist Timur Khabirov, WormHoleSeath Records introduced 90s inspired Belgian Melodic Death metallers Mordkaul to us as experienced musicians and they’re not wrong. “Dress Code: Blood” was recorded by Tommy Goffin (ex-Hell City) vocals, Tim Bekaert (ex-Diablo Blvd, ex-A Brand), Vincent Noben (ex-Hell City) guitars and Adrian Erlandsson (At The Gates, The Haunted) drums. Mixing and mastering is done by Swedish producer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity, Pain, Evergrey). Soon after, Jan Rammeloo (ex-Bliksem, Furia, Your Highness) and Tony Van den Eynde (ex-Leng Tch’e) joined forces…

The black winds of Hell eminate from the creaking basement door with the demonic call for disciples to come forth in “Damnation” before Mordkaul throw us headlong into the album title track in the anthemic “Dress Code Blood“. A modernisation of the Gothenburg sound with a tasteful solo from Vincent Noben and dressed in blood spitting, throat shredding vocals, it’s a chant along piece that will go down well at Festivals. “Onwards To Hell” then comes out swinging with Goffin a man possessed, lyrically depicting the greed of humanity and sinners refusing salvation against a backdrop of classic riffs before slowing things down to a mid tempo chug to allow for another electric solo. Onwards to hell we march. The rampant raging “A Swarm Of Illusions” gives that breakneck speed with melodic leads over the top of all the rhythm guitar parts, reminding us how the Metalcore genre was born of Melodic Death Metal while delivering that instant hook with headbangable grooves. Given the title you would expect no let up in “All Out War” and that’s exactly what happens with Erlandsson delivering a nightly fine percussive performance with little bursts of blast beats and Jack hammer footwork while the fist pumping chorus strips the paint from walls.

The respite comes in the form of the melodic “Eve“, a haunting acoustic guitar leading the way against a backdrop of war drums and if that wasn’t left field enough, “Aurora” brings a Crowbar esq Sludge Metal riff to the table without letting up any of those blood thirsty vocals. It’s as if Asphyx were playing a Raging Speedhorn cover before the introspective lyrics melt away with the bourbon soaked atmosphere. “Bring Me Her Head” is the surprise in terms of the ordering of the record, a lyrical follow on to introduction piece “Damnation“, it would have been better suited there and with it being just as urgent as the title track as it gallops through the paddock there would have been no reason not to do it. Here it looses a little bit of its edge without the bolstering of the introduction. “Virgin Whore” is another ripper that sees Goffin left with no vocal chords as he roars in dry and gravelly fashion about things being turned opposite in a parallel reality. What happens when the rich become poor, when the strong become weak and when the virgin becomes whore? It’s easy to see how Mordkaul and Killswitch Engage were inspired by similar bands, especially with the brilliance that is “The Widow Black“, which is a classically anthemic Melodic Death Metal cut that has everything you’d expect from the genre. 2000’s era Metalcore fans will unite with those of the Gothenburg sound for this, an impressive starting point for Mordkaul [7.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Damnation
  2. Dress Code Blood
  3. Onwards To Hell
  4. A Swarm Of Illusions
  5. All Out War
  6. Eve
  7. Aurora
  8. Bring Me Her Head
  9. Virgin Whore
  10. The Widow Black

Dress Code Blood” by Mordkaul is out via WormHoleDeath Records on 29th January 2021 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp

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