Salt and Pepper for the gear
-- Mordkaul --
|Melodic death metal
|Tony Van Den Eyden
|Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Review written by David "Orcish Shredder" Hardy.
A Belgian band named MordKaul!You'll tell me that there's nothing surprising at Belgian Metal Shredder... well, ok but it was just to underline it. So, who is behind this band? Well, after losing Adrian Erlandsson on drums and Tim Bekaert (guitar), Tony Van den Eyden (drums) and Jan Rammeloo (bass) joined the band. So when 2 out of 5 band members leave the band after just one album (which was the 2021 album "Dresscode Blood"), it's never a good sign, but they were able to bounce back and offer us a second album (at least the first part of it) with the new members. Were they able to save the ship? Did they have time to find the right alignment? Let's find out!
Let's check if the adage: "It's good it's Belgian!" is correct again?
"Crown of worms" first song on this Feeding the Machine Part 1 EP and I won't dwell on this track. It's very good... but even if I have the joy to hear a little bass during some 3 seconds of this track, I can't remember more than that. It's a pity, but that lack of audible bass is a little thing that I truly miss in this song. The small guitar solo is nice and well placed but doesn't manage to propel this track to top tier. But a solid opening nevertheless.
"In dead Eyes" Thanks to this track's creative use of throbbing beats with variants, Mordkaul captured my attention from beginning to end. Which in itself shouldn't actually be the case since I'm not a fan of binary throbbing. But yes, it's violent, nasty, aggressive, and rather ruthless. As relevent to all tracks in Mordkaul's new EP, we have the right to enjoy a small solo by Vincent Noben... which is more than solid, once again! He doesn't abuse and that's really a good thing. Not that he isn't good at what he does, but it would've unbalanced the song if his solos were any lengthier. In fact, they managed to use an "ultra simplistic" theme to turn things around and make the main theme a stylistic accessory which gives even more weight to the rest.
Frankly, I find the song's dark ambient ending way too long, but it does perfectly fit as a transition to the next track: "Welcome to the sixth stage of grief" which thus intertwines both tracks so seamlessly that only at the latter song's 1:30 minute mark I realized we were in another song since from that part on Tommy Goffin starts to push the song forward along with a sudden tempo increase. In other words, a two-headed beast of a double track that goes on for a little too long but in which both songs do tick off the necessary boxes either way. We find here the basics death metal blast beating and it's well done overall but for me the song really starts to shine at around the 4 minute mark, which is too late for a track that ends at 4:19!
"For I am Machine" convinced me more. A kind of small guitar arpeggio backing this track gives off a semblance of academic sweetness to the track which isn't a bad idea, but my favorite part is in the middle of the track. Some well placed melody that provides a little breath of fresh air before going back into the depths. Finally comes maybe my favorite track of this EP, ending song "Beast of dread", which offers some more space to their lead guitarist Vincent Noben. Even if I like Tony VdE's playing a little less (he's really good but Vincent does take the cake here). The track is altogether more balanced in every sense of the word (speed, intensity, musicality) and gives a direction that I really like and I hope Mordkaul will continue on this road.
So with me discovering this band without being a fan of death metal, nor of the blast beat, nor of the slobbering surplus that can bring an excess of guitar, I will surprise you with the following statement! I think that Mordkaul is a very talented death metal act that still has to adjust themselves a bit and have to find some more balance between the strenghts of their various members.
Indeed, Vincent's guitar brings a real plus, even if sometimes it's a bit too much, and the others really can do more than this. Jan's bass is too much put behind, even if it is the style of music that demands it, and that people usually prefer a "binding" bass over a "musical" one, I think it could be interesting to have a bass counterweight to a present lead guitar. The "duet" that Stefan proposes in vocals is interesting and deserves to be more exploited. Concerning his own guitar playing, I don't have much to reproach him! He holds the house together and does exactly what is necessary! Top!
Tony VdE (alias "the octopus with 10 tentacles" because holding a concert with just two legs and two arms at this speed is almost superhuman) gives us a nice display of his skills, however, it's a game that he could still find some more nuance and by some moments complexity. But all things considered, Tony possesses a fast (even very fast) and powerful style. A combat mechanic that's just right! A little adjustment here and there and it will be a mass murder. A bit like ... a big, angry space marine of chaos on his motorcycle! ... Ok, this must speak only to guys of my age but ... My work, my choices.
My preferences go to "In Dead Eyes" that we would have cut at 4:22 and "Beast of Dread" even if in the end it all "fades to nothing" I'm still not a fan... but it's very personal preference.
My score: 7,78
(the 8 is to avoid copyright problems) Mordkaul's "Feeding the machine part 1" EP is a release that has a lot of death metal potential but still requires some additional balancing to make each of its many ingredients extra tasty. There's melody, speed, finesse and raw power and definitely worth checking out if you enjoy death metal as a whole!