(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Archaeaeon (2008), 6.5/10
Parasignosis (2011), 7/10

Vancouver's band Mitochondrion unleashed a putrescent hybrid of death and black metal on Archaeaeon (2008 - Dark Descent, 2011). The distorted, droning and very low growl of Shawn Hache, represents the opposite pole of Nick Yanchuk's guitar and bass free-form mayhem in the nine-minute Into the Pit of Babel (interrupted by an eerie pause). There is a pause also in the middle of the grotesque satanic dance Akashic Predation, although that one is drowned in guitar pyrotechnics. The 15-minute 137 - Death's Hendecaratia is emblematic of what does not work with this approach: here the pause rules supreme and for ten minutes we are not sure if we are entering "power ballad" territory or simply a vacuum of ideas (then finally something happens but it is not exactly the most exciting and/or original of ideas). Hache's brooding aplomb horror and the contrast with the guitar's multidimensional chaos are perhaps better demonstrated in the shorter merciless songs, such as Agonizing - In the Shadow of the Hammerblow. The fusion of the melodic and atonal ends of the spectrum is effective instead in Oath in Defiance, which is mostly midtempo, but achieves both a truly epic and babelic confusion in the middle and a noisy apotheosis at the end. On the other hand, the mission seems to be more atmospheric than murderous and then less extreme songs like Infernal Weapons Summons play their role well. The horror miniature Descent ends in the droning distortion that begins the ten-minute Wraithlike, whose two proto-melodic sections are surgically separated by yet another pause and whose heroic finale is laid out by a verbose guitar solo. Mitochondrion is not about violence but about meaning. Four minutes of noise, titled Conclusion - Organum Exitus, close the album and show that the trio could succeed in the world of ambient music as well. The pauses stand a little bit in the way, and the drumming is somewhat stale, but overall the album strikes an impressive balance of musicianship and nihilism.

The sound of Parasignosis (Profound Lore, 2011) is massive and dense. The pauses of the previous album have been flooded with large doses of cacophony, the growl has become even deeper, evoking occult ceremonies, and the result is one of the blackest albums ever made. The oceanic sound of the overture, Plague Evockation, is emblematic. This is the first movement of the three-movement suite Pestilentiam Intus Vocamus - Voluntatem Absolvimus. The second one, Lex Ego Exitium, plods along with panzer rhythm and heroic riffs, and then suddenly lashes out with demonic virulence. The ten-minute conclusion, Tetravirulence, piles up a cartoonish march, a vicious guitar onslaught, a grotesque singalong (in the usual growled register), an instrumental break that evokes all the masters from Jimi Hendrix to Black Sabbath and to Deep Purple, and then somehow synthesizes all these element into the stormy crescendo of a repeated pattern, the equivalent of an orchestra of percussion. Trials is a volcanic eruption of noise, with an unstoppable tirade of smashing and screeching guitar, while the low-droning vocals seem to plunge into a black hole. Inside the delirious gallop of Parasignosis the guitars spin and coil so frantically that they seem to imitate the digital noise of a videogame, but by the end the song has become a completely different beast, almost a soundtrack for a war movie. The "military" motif is carried into the eight-minute Banishment, that feels like a carpet bombing for three minutes (but then becomes a bit static and predictable) and especially into the martial drumming and shooting guitar of Kathenotheism. The nine-minute closer Ambient Outro is abstract soundpainting: it leaves the catacombs where the ceremony has been held and it roams vast alien spaces in search of spiritual meaning. The album clearly loses momentum towards the end, but the first six songs are enough to make even zombies dance hysterically.

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