Mortifilia list Dismember and At The Gates as two key influences—Swedish bands, and them from the Czech Republic, which is another fact that they take pains to mention—and those are awfully good points of reference. There’s not a lot original here, as they choose to follow the slightly more melodic side of classic Swedish death, with big, gravelly production, a pleasingly phlegmy growl in front, and lots of tasty riffs and melodic leads. Particular mention for the drums, whose sometime lack of precision lends the proceedings a pleasing old-timey feel. It’s not original, but it is good, hitting that death metal sweet spot. What doesn’t add to more than the sum of its parts is still plenty good if the individual elements are the above collection of savory songwriting elements.
What’s funny is that sometimes you almost don’t want to listen to the titans of the field; you begin to begrudge them that which made them great, whatever it was: their originality, their own distinctiveness, the luck and circumstance which made them your first, or your most impactful. Sometimes you want a half-hour of more statistically probable death metal, familiar but never before heard riffs, competently and passionately played. I will be honest: when my friends sometimes ask me for a CD to explain some kind of metal, my impulse is as much to find the most representative bands as it is to find the best. And Slaughter of the Soul, as much of a classic as it is—because it is the classic it is—is not representative; it is exceptional. I want 12 bands whose names, though they sit in my library and though I have heard them all before, all pass before me wholly unrecognized, partly because they are in themselves usually as generic as ‘Mortifilia’, but also because the music to which they are attached does absolutely nothing to my brain (and no less, absolutely) than cause it to lie back and say, ‘Ah—death metal.’
Indeed, Mortifilia, playing a substyle less common to their own nation, and from a land slightly outside the normal territory of the style they do play, are even better suited, via the processes of hybridization and smoothing over which accompany the adoption of a musical style from out of its indigenous breeding ground, to achieving that kind of mathematically, statistically satisfying death metal. But it is imperative that nobody think I am being sarcastic or flip here. Mortifilia does indeed achieve it, and it’s greatly satisfying. Now, having most recently listened to the record last night, I can’t remember a single song or riff that I heard. But that’s not always a bad thing; it just means that the next time I hear them, they’ll still sound brand new.Z.D.Smith