Better Late Than Before I Die. A review of Reluctant Mortem

Some context to establish why this is (sort of?) a big deal to me: I suck. I have sucked for a long time. But in the words of Richard Pryor (R.I.P.): “I really am fuckin’ trying, okay?”.

Back in March of this year, I recieved an inbox from Matt, the drummer of Reluctant Mortem, who will be brutally dissected with my scalpel of linguistic proficiency once I shut up and finish my story. So, he came across my writing somehow, I suppose, and thought, “Hey, this guy seems like he’d be willing to write up my band, and hopefully give us a favourable review even though we only have one song”. I, being a gentleman, told him I’d wait til they had more material out so I could more fully see what they sounded like, and just so I wasn’t writing a dissertation on a single song, which I could do, but it’d be a task, for sure.

A few months pass, and, as promised, Reluctant Mortem summons up three more full length, and eyes turn to me expectantly for my opinion. I take a listen, but being slave to other obligations (read: shows I had to review but didn’t get off my ass and review), I had to keep putting it off and putting it off, ad nauseum. To add to the confusion was the fact that I have done this kind of thing before with no problems, I was in a double bind: Do I say “fuck the schedule and how I normally do things, time to take control and get my responsibles out the way so I can play unfettered”? Nope, I just continue on the same way I did before, insanely expecting a change despite my inflexibility.

So here I stand (or sit), finally about to strike a critical blow to my procrastination. Reluctant Mortem, merry Christmas, and happy new year. I’m finally becoming human.

Long Island, NY, the birthplace of the legendary Suffocation, is a more metal place than one would expect. Famous not only for its iced tea, but one of the founding fathers of brutal death metal? It must be a truly soul-shattering place to inspire such sounds. Reluctant Mortem walks a different, more melodic path, however, taking influence from  modern bands like The Black Dahlia Murder with galloping Gothenburg leads and drums pounding —and occasionally blasting— steadily along through tried and tested song structures that are familiar and weatherworn, but not yet broken, if handled skillfully. They’re not too metalcore, either, so elitists, lower your swords.

“Dying Days”, after a tastefully gloomy piano intro, turns into a safely written melodeath number, with a thrash-inflected circlepit part that wants for nothing but a touch that is uniquely Reluctant Mortem and not simply the sum of years of listening to what we call Melodic Death Metal today. To highlight this, take a gander at their slower track “Embrace Your Sins”, and note how similar the opening notes are to the ending notes of”Songs For The Damned” by All Shall Perish. Don’t get me wrong, they play the songs with that heart that you can’t buy at a store, but without building on their own unique songwriting, how much longer may they keep this up? The world is overpopulated with bands under the Melodic Death Metal tag, and many are destined to either fall by the wayside unsung or be lauded without deserving it. Backwards worlds require backwards folks.

Despite my proclamations of doom and gloom in a world that’s booming with bands that are all starting to sound like a composite of what they jam between jams, Reluctant Mortem’s future looks bright. With 663 likes on Fuckbook, they’re certainly doing something right, and even though number of likes is in no way indicative of quality, an up-and-coming death metal band not yet on Metal Archives spreading their message mainly through word of HTML getting such a number must mean that enough of their own core personality as a band is shining through the layers of used riffs.

Highlights: The drumming, and the self-titled track

Lows: Vocals could be stronger, and an abundance of ‘heard-it-before typical melodeath riffs.

Verdict: I like it,and keep up the good work.

All I’ll say are these last few words of wisdom, and Reluctant Mortem may leave the nest of my negligence: dig deeper, and don’t settle for dimestore melodeath riffs. Y’all can do better than that. Keep your heads banging and your noses clean, etc.

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