For the most part, Mortanius’ first full-length Till Death Do Us Part doesn’t seem to differ much from the numerous EPs they’ve issued since their 2013 formation. Having five tracks instead of four puts Till Death Do Us Part over the forty-minute mark, but it still features the Pennsylvania group’s typical mix of prog epics and power metal blazers. They even kept to the questionable tradition of closing out with a metalized pop cover. But even with these old parameters in place, Mortanius has stepped up considerably.
While this album remains driven by the “Symphony X on helium” formula of releases past, the presentation is much more polished this time around. The production is noticeably cleaner, allowing the compositions’ extensive layers to jump out free of claustrophobia yet also blend without severely overwhelming the listener. It’s still not the most accessible material out there but considering the sheer amount of stuff going on, I’m glad they’re sticking to the Divine Wings of Tragedy approach as opposed to going full Paradise Lost.
The musicianship is also a lot tighter. While much of the album’s power is derived from the intricate guitars and surprisingly tasteful drum programming, the keyboards give the album its distinct character by means of twinkling pianos, lush strings, and wintry textures. The bass playing is fantastic, constantly sticking out with a clean yet bubbling tone that further reinforces the early Symphony X comparisons. The high-pitched vocals may be the biggest point of contention for some but it’s never grating, and the occasional choral backing broadens the sound.
The songwriting is also pretty solid, not quite hitting a staple status but still displaying plenty of purpose. The band is at their best during the ten-minute-plus runtimes of “Disengage” and the title track, particularly the former, but “Facing the Truth” was a wise choice of opener as its five-minute duration makes for a comparably smoother entry point with some King Diamond-influenced riffage to match. I can even let the power ballad take on Wham’s “Last Christmas” slide.
I personally prefer a more direct approach when it comes to power/prog metal, but Mortanius’s first full-length album sees the band at their best thus far. The style is the same but the heightened production values and musicianship make for some strong upgrades. As someone who dismissed Mortanius in the past for being too gimmicky at times, I find this to be a strong turning point for them. The band clearly has the tools to give us something great in the near future.
“Facing the Truth”
“Till Death Do Us Part”