Review 1773 : Mental Cruelty – Zwielicht – English

Mental Cruelty has risen again.

Formed in 2014 in Germany, the band comprising Marvin Kessler (guitar), Viktor Dick (bass), Danny Straßer (drums) and Nahuel Lozano (guitar) welcomed Lukas Nicolai (vocals) in 2023 to give life to Zwielicht, their fourth album, released by Century Media Records.

Introductory track Midtvinter immediately lays the foundations for an impressive universe of majestic yet relatively dark samples, before Obsessis a Daemonio hastens to us with a rare virulence. The terrifying howls are naturally combined with a massive rhythmic pattern which only stops to let unhealthy visceral lyrics emerge from the dissonant lull or to crush us with a monstrous break. We also have a few touches of clean vocals on the intense final, before Forgotten Kings lock us back into this oppressive atmosphere, quickly joined by striking Black Metal influences. The rhythm is broken up by orchestrations before returning even heavier, as on these aggressive breaks, while it’s with a lively moshpart that Pest brings forth its wave of rage with sometimes soaring sonorities which still leave plenty of room for wild riffs topped by possessed growls. The track builds on the contrast between the band’s influences, just like Nordlys, which kicks off with a soothing melody but only takes a short time to let the overpowering rhythmic pattern emerge, closely followed by the diversified vocals and orchestrations. Majestic Black Metal sounds again stand out on this track, while Mortal Shells emphasizes the rawer, more devastating parts and the epic but suffocating orchestrations. The mood abruptly changes when Zwielicht kicks in, offering almost ritualistic tones on clean vocals, which eventually grow stronger before Symphony of a Dying Star buries us under its raw strength, orchestrated with epic sonorities. Despite having been revealed some time ago, this track remains as effective as ever, coupling intense parts with devastating breaks followed by the darkly melancholic The Arrogance of Agony, which lets the band venture into plaintive, wrenching sounds, while keeping one foot in violence. The album closes with A Tale of Salt and Light, the longest composition, which lets orchestrations magnify a final blast of overpowering, rhythmic riffs, not forgetting the monstrous, masterful vocal parts. 

Mental Cruelty have not rested on their laurels despite a loss that could have cost them dearly, but the band have bounced back with Zwielicht, a powerful dark album confirming both their new recruit’s talent and their desire to live more intensely.


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