Exordium Mors’ metal has a markedly pitiless temper, much like that of fellow New Zealand kin Witchrist, Winter Deluge and Diocletian. The five-piece band from Auckland originally formed in 2004, and have released a series of demos, a split DVD release, and one EP, 2010’s Verus Hostis – A Hymn to Fire.
The band’s latest EP, Sacrifice, Perish and Demise, is being dangled as fresh bait for prospective labels. Exordium Mors’ blend of unhinged thrash and cutthroat black and death metal makes them a perfect fit for any underground label that celebrates the filth-laden glories of old-school, noxious metal. (Nuclear War Now! I hope you’re paying attention.)
The band consist of Santi and Black Mortum on guitars, Scourge on vocals, Hades on drums and Assailant on bass. They take the path first cut by acts such as Blasphemy, Aura Noir, Bathory and Absu, which of course means Venom’s presence looms large too. Fittingly, Sacrifice, Perish and Demise ends on a blistering cover of “Black Metal”. All of which means Exordium Mors occupy similar territory to that of Impiety or Deströyer 666—where raw, jet-black, relentless riffs crawl from the morass to deliver the brute punch of lo-fidelity horror.
Roaring into life with the vitriolic first track, “Sign of Judas Leige”, Santi and Black Mortum bring the frenzied twin guitar attack to the fore. Their work throughout the EP harnesses an imposing Hanneman/King duality. Dissonant solos shoulder past isolated cyclical riffing or, conversely, they work together in frenzied harmony to bludgeon the band’s aesthetic home. Whichever the case, there’s something reverential about Santi and Black Mortum’s playing. Distortive solos and flurries of riffs change pace ceaselessly, reflecting an appreciation of the heyday of unrefined, blackened thrash.
Still, while thrash plays its part in the manic dynamics, it’s Scourge’s vocals that emerge from the chaos to stamp black metal’s diacritic upon the EP. Scourge spits, screeches, gurgles and growls his way through Sacrifice, Perish and Demise, sounding possessed, malevolent and utterly tormented.
Scorching feedback bleeds straight into the second track, “Ancestors Call”, ensuring the feverish, tremolo-heavy tempo of the first five minutes doesn’t drop an iota. A surge of wicked Marduk-like riffs sees “Ancestors Call” blaze though its running time with plenty of bloodthirsty resilience. With Hades alternating between blasting and martial beats, the track has enough percussive nuance to keep things from becoming overwhelming in nature. Ultimately, it’s that diversity that is the key to the EP’s success. For all its fervency and ferocity, it is not simply a one-dimensional liturgy.
“Exordium Mors”, a song that first appeared on 2006’s Rehearsal 24-11-06 demo, rounds off the set of original tunes. Not having heard the initial version, I can’t comment upon its development. However, throughout its seven minutes an abundance of deft thrashing flourishes keep things moving inexorably forward—it’s probably safe to assume the production values have lifted a notch to illuminate its darkest corners.
Sacrifice, Perish and Demise is made up of four songs: two new tunes, one older track unearthed, and one cover. They display plenty of rancorous grit, determination and promise. Exordium Mors’ originals combine dexterous, serpentine riffing with brusque changes in tack, underscored by the barbarous marrow of extreme metal. There’s technicality to be found, but it doesn’t come at the expense of thoroughly sadistic vigour—something the band shares with outfits like Canada’s Weapon.
It’s also worth mentioning that Exordium Mors’ live reputation has been gaining huge momentum of late. The band’s recent performance in Auckland, opening for Absu, brought them great praise from NZ metal writers; their upcoming shows with Impiety and Goatwhore are highly anticipated.
Nick Keller’s cover artwork has been attracting some serious kudos as well. Keller is a conceptual artist at Weta Workshop (the special effects gurus for Lord of the Rings and the upcoming Hobbit, as well as other big-budget extravaganzas). He’s been making a huge impact on the NZ metal scene of late with evocative and detailed cover and gatefold art for a number of bands—Beastwars, Razorwyre and Heresiarch included.
If Exordium Mors’ aim is to snag some label attention, they’ve certainly laid out a fine trap with Sacrifice, Perish and Demise. NZ does war-cult death metal extremely well—that’s been internationally recognised for many years—and the local scene is loaded with great sludge, black, avant and traditional metal bands. But what makes Exordium Mors stand out from the pack is their ability to evoke the call of metal’s heritage yet retain their own distinct personality. Few bands on NZ’s metal landscape are so effectively malicious.
(My thanks to Chris Rigby’s excellent NZ underground metal blog Subcide for alerting me to the new EP. Check out Subcide right here)