posted on 8/2009 By:
“The wait is finally over,” trumpets Ibex Moon’s Goreaphobia blurb. Huh. Didn’t know that we were waiting. Apparently, we’ve been waiting for quite a long time—these virtually-unknown “pioneers,” despite having formed in 1988, are putting out their first album in 2009. Everything about Mortal Repulsion’s release—from their long, sparse career to the triumphalist publicity—screams “old-school ‘banger cash-grab.” On the other hand, Goreaphobia features members from Incantation (guitarist Alex Bouks and drummer Jim Roe) and Absu (bassist/vocalist Chris Gamble), so the metal mojo is strong with the band. Unfortunately, Mortal Repulsion isn’t quite the “bludgeoning, yet calculated masterclass in old-school death metal” that Ibex Moon has promised.
As you’d expect from a band that includes two Incantation members, Goreaphobia play a murky, direct brand of DM that relies heavily on simple grooves and bleak atmosphere—though their songs do feature the occasional up-tempo freakout. If anything, these dudes strip down the formula even further and introduce a grainy, Necrophagia-esque sense of schlocky 70s horror film atmosphere. The band’s musicianship is solid, if not outstanding (drummer Roe’s off-kilter but intuitive style does them well), and the production is appropriately muddled and foreboding. When Goreaphobia get down to business and crank out straightforward, primitive death metal, as they do on tracks like “Amulet of Damnation,” “Primal Nothingness,” and the title track, they can be quite entertaining, if not wildly memorable.
Unfortunately, Mortal Repulsion suffers from a lack of discipline that at times keeps it from achieving even its modest goals. This failure to self-edit is most obvious on the album’s more unwieldy tracks. “Negative Screams (Passage)” is three and a half minutes of distant racket and clean guitar noodling that begs to be skipped on every listen, while the two short “Faded into Ends” cuts consist of a trudging, doomy riff that the band presumably couldn’t find any other use for. “Grave Plagued Planet” and “Despised and Ruined” both plod along at varying degrees of middle tempo, devoid of exciting riffwork and attempting unsuccessfully to rely on Gamble’s weak, wheezy rasp, which is a problem all its own. Without these missteps, Mortal Repulsion would clock in at a trim 32 or 33 minutes; as it stands, it muddles on for nearly fifty.
However, even if Goreaphobia had released a slimmed-down Mortal Repulsion in 1991, they would still have been a squarely middle-of-the-pack band. The simple fact is that not every obscure bunch of growlers from twenty years ago can be successfully trotted back out onto the field and achieve legendary status, no matter how early in the game they formed. If you’re an older fan who saw these guys back in the golden days and wonder how they sound in the 21st century, Mortal Repulsion might be worth a listen. Everyone else would probably do better picking up another Incantation album.
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