Sunday 2 June 2019

Written In Torment - Maledictus Dies Illa

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 28 Jun 2019


1. Old Gods Of The North
2. Benevolence Defied
3. Magna Mortalitas
4. Unchain Your Mind
5. Maledictus Dies Illa
6. Descent
7. Despair

I've been planning this review all day but then I got writer's block, so did a whole load of other things to help take my mind of it so when I eventually returned to it, my mind would be clear. Who knows whether it's worked but we'll find out. Two years after last full-length "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" was released, UK black metal band Written In Torment is due to return with new record "Maledictus Dies Illa" at the end of June. Once the preserve of sole member Leviathan, the recording line-up has grown to incorporate Prometheus on lead guitar, keyboards and backing vocals, with Storm also providing backing vocals and drums. In fact this is the first Written In Torment record to use real drums. It's also the first record to see a vinyl release, which is being funded in it's entirety by Leviathan himself. Talk about suffering for your art!

It’s always been amazing to hear what Written in Torment has been able to write and produce over the years, especially given the band remaining as a solo project for a lot of it. “Maledictus Dies Illa” shows a new side to the band and opener Old Gods Of The North instantly hits a blasting stride. Vocals and instrumentation come together amidst subtle ambience and seem ready to pick up where long-time influencers Bal-Sagoth left off. Benevolence Defied shows off the greater technicality that is present on “Maledictus…”. The addition of both Prometheus and Storm to the line-up has definitely made a positive impact and the production allows all of the instrumentation to be heard clearly, giving it a great soundstage. Written In Torment was never a lo-fi band by any means but there’s a new life that’s been captured here.

The keyboards sound great on Magna Mortalitas, giving it a sinister feel while not overpowering the rest of the music. The lengthier composition is more of a journey and it’s mid-paced tempo affords you a small break from the extremity of those quicker songs. What was unexpected was the almost tech-death intro passage to Unchain Your Mind, which seems to carry on throughout the song. It’s utterly mad and proves just how much music can be shoehorned into a song of less that five-minutes. The clean chants/singing are also a first for a Written In Torment album (I think?).

You’re escorted back into more familiar territory with the title-track, although it’s still not what you might be expecting. Occult themes and choral chants flow through it effortlessly and when it’s the turn of the lead guitar to take over, it does so with a lengthy solo that goes even further to outline the quality of this release. Following that title-track was always going to be hard and penultimate song Descent does sound raw in comparison. It’s the longest song on “Maledictus…” and while that rawness does stick around it is appeased by more stellar guitar playing later on. There’s little or no time for breath before closing song Despair takes over and its a return to the band’s more engaging sound with melodic riffs amongst the elements used to make it an impressive listen indeed.

With this release, Written In Torment is progressing as a band in a really positive way. It takes balls to self-release your own vinyl run but this record should translate well onto wax, so there’s no need for you to hang about once it’s officially released. 

You can stream both Descent and Despair trio to the official release below:-

The album is also up for pre-order via Bandcamp above.

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