Many metal albums create a feeling of forward movement; lumbering, running, sprinting. Others hold you stationary while buffeting you with gusts of sound. On their sophomore release, Mitochondrion create a sensation of falling. This isn't necessarily a Luciferian fall (although Satan does make an appearance), but more of a trip down Alice's rabbit-hole. Superlative death metal riffs, gurgles, screams and drums assault you from across the stereo field, shifting position constantly and filling the air around you as they rush past. During her own seemingly endless descent, Alice wonders if she will fall through the earth to “come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards”. Mitochondrion are those Antipodean people, who have crafted an inscrutable death metal experience we can hardly fathom but certainly enjoy.
“Plague Evockation” is our introduction to the esoteric journey at hand. Rolling, rapid riffs evoke instant thoughts of Immolation and Incantation. As the song accelerates and we plummet into the heart of this music, you'll get wafts of the Portal's eldritch atmosphere. Initial impressions aside, Mitochondrion's sound is ultimately a step in a tangential and original direction.
On Parasignosis, vocals are used as both an instrument and weapon. Omnipresent growls narrate this ritual while a second voice layers sharper bellows over the entire affair. The guitars, drums and howling invective meld together into an enveloping miasma of sound. As you descend into nothingness, Parasignosis surrounds your consciousness like an endless black storm cloud.
Lyrically, Parasignosis is an occult hymn of purification, illumination and unification. There is a distinct concern with numerology, particularly concerning “the god that is Eleven” and the evils of the “Tetravirulence.” As the album title suggests, the loftiest goal of these esoteric rites is insight into the infinite. I've pored over these inscrutable lyrics repeatedly, and I know that I've failed to fully comprehend the abstruse meanings therein.
Dual guitars unleash frenzied assaults throughout the proceedings. One guitar seems to provide the meat of the riffage and ties into the drummer's rhythmic propulsion. The other creates friction with shrieking accompaniment and odd melodic flourishes. The leads don't ever step to the forefront; they are whipped uniformly into batter of the mix. Many riffs undertake Immolation-like contortions, stepping up and down the fretboard in alien patterns. Each measure seems to bring its own rhythmic peculiarity and vulgar display of dissonant brilliance. The consummate drums give shape and form the amorphous murk of our plunge, carefully containing the tempest of sound with magnificent precision.
This isn't a completely monolithic affair. Moments of ambiance, bare drums and befouled feedback break up the journey. As “Kathenotheism” ends, we are suddenly struck with silence. Defying logic, geology and physics, we've fallen through the center of the earth and are ejected through the opposite side. Parasignosis is equipped for this eventuality, culminating in an ominous ten minute soundtrack for your astral journey. Now we are falling forever into deep space.
As a listening experience, Parasignosis goes one of two ways for me. If I focus on it and attempt to comprehend its enigmatic glory, I'm rewarded with arresting and recondite revelation. If I try to let the album play as background music, it fights back, impinging upon my consciousness with a nebulous malevolence. Don't turn you back on it.
Parasignosis is out now on Profound Lore Records.
You can stream the entire album below: