Review: “Harrowing” by Mithridatum

“Through mercurial waves beneath the moon’s mournful glow, a trinity of incarnate beings that embody Mithridatum have conjured forth the entity known as Harrowing, an auditory pilgrimage traversing a gloomscape leaden with dissonance, despondency, isolation, entropy… into the abyss. The name Mithridatum refers to the practice of achieving immunity against poisoning through self-administered, sub-lethal doses.  The allegory is inescapable in its illustration of the unrelenting immiseration all incarnate beings must endure, willing or unwilling.” ~ Mithridatum

Featuring Lyle Cooper (guitars, bass, drums) and Geoff Ficco (vocals), known for three years in The Faceless including the recording of “Autotheism“ as well as Marlon Friday (guitars) of Abhorrent fame, Blackened Dissonant Death Metal trio Mithridatum have written and recorded a debut album mixed and mastered by Michael Garrison which paints us intrigued. All three are seasoned musicians with lists of projects as long as your arm engraved on their tombstones and each of those offers something unique so the collaborative possibilities here are seemingly endless…

While “Harrowing” may comprise only five cuts, each of those runs deep with the album running to the better part of thirty five minutes, the title being the perfect one word summary of the onslaught. The unholy trinity have worked tirelessly in the forges of Valhalla to create this with a sharp focus on dark and brooding atmospherics to create soundscapes that encapsulate the lyrical narrative created by Ficco. The percussion from Cooper is nothing short of incredible throughout, the perfect example of how to blend Black and Death Metal styles into one gloriously seamless experience in free flowing fashion. “Sojourn” rumbles along with a distinctive Scandinavian flare, the swirling guitar work setting the standard for the album as it paints in dark patterns. Stepping out from the shadow of the opening cut, “Silhouette” offers up the a few direct riffs and odd time signatures with a momentary fall into Meshuggah territory as it goes from the bleak prayers of madness to being consumed by the demon summoned by the calls. Stirring the soul like a psychological horror film, you can never be quite sure if it was her ghost you saw in the fog or if it was simply a trick of a mind starved of sleep and coffee.

The mountain builds once more with “Mournful Glow” which again circles the drain of darkness at the bottom of the poison well before some staccato riff breaks and blast beats that would give Kevin Talley a run for his money appear in the mid section, lifting the gloom into the powerful violence of a coastal storm by night. Masterful and arty it finds Ficco at his storytelling finest with introspection flowing in poetic motion as he reveals his dark thoughts of self immolation. Underlining the almost avant-garde nature of the creations of  Mithridatum, “Lower Power” opens up the floor with a Groove Metal passage that allow the band to escape their morose stylings and in doing so take a leaf from the book of Imperial Triumphant. They may never go as far as that here but the potential is there for future albums should they so desire. Concluding the album with a monstrous performance “The Passageway” brings the house down by offering more Death Metal riffs and another masterclass from Cooper at the drum stool as Ficco writhes in the agony of mental anguish once more [7.5/10]

1. Sojourn
2. Silhouette
3. Mournful Glow
4. Lower Power
5. The Passageway

Harrowing” by Mithridatum is out 3rd February 2023 via Willowtip Records with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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