Thursday 21 September 2023

Mithridatum - Harrowing

Labels: Willowtip Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 03 Feb 2023


1. Sojourn

2. Silhouette

3. Mournful Glow

4. Lower Power

5. The Passageway

This release from US black/death metal band Mithridatum is both a 2023 release and a debut one at that, so I don't feel so bad about being eight months late to the party (correction: I feel pretty bad). It was released via fellow US label Willowtip Records, who continue to champion the most technical and extreme bands currently around. Mithridatum is also made up of ex members of The Faceless and Abhorrent, so there's definitely pedigree here.

Harrowing is the perfect balance between dissonant, metallic instrumentation and raw vocals. That balance is exhibited by opener ‘Sojourn’, which is heavier on the death metal than the black to these ears. The journey into extremity and experimentation begins in brilliant fashion. 

The instrumental build up on ‘Silhouette’ is glorious. There is a lot to take in musically but when it’s this raging, who really cares. When the vocals of Geoff Ficco enter the fray, it’s hard to believe that Mithridatum is a  trio. The guitar work of Marlon Friday coupled with the multi-instrument approach of Lyle Cooper (guitar/bass/drums) breeds so much life and volume into the recording, especially with the blistering percussive battery that hits later on.

This album has blown me away so far and as third song ‘Mournful Glow’ crawls forth in a weird doom-like manner, I secretly wish there was an accompanying instrument-only version. Not because I dislike the vocals (far from it) but because the musicianship here is just so good! Expansive songs sound so much better when they’re totally immersive. Immersive is what you get throughout this album.

By now it’s no longer weird to call a five song release an album, especially when it lasts longer than most albums that feature double that of songs. ‘Lower Power’ sees Mithridatum at probably their most up-tempo and groove-laden. Both death and black metal can groove and indeed let light through, which is exactly what happens here. Granted the definition of light is somewhat skewed as the trio go full-on intense shortly after.

Album closer ‘The Passageway’ channels occult atmospheres through semi-whispered vocals, coupling them with the band’s progressive and precise technicality. The signature black metal vocals are joined by spoken-word passages and as the song’s tempo slows, choral melodies can be heard deeper in the mix, surrounded by swirling instrumentation.

Extreme music is constantly evolving and reinventing itself without actually straying too far from it’s early path. Bands like Necrophagist and Deathspell Omega lead the way in the 90s and in doing so, gave birth to the modern day marriage of death and black metal. Mithridatum follow a similar path, while also forging their own. Long may that continue.

Stream and purchase Harrowing on all formats below:-

Mithridatum -

Willowtip Records -

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