In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.
We’re still early in the music season, and it’s been a hot minute since we talked about power metal here on the site, despite my promises to the contrary. Happily, not only has February started to bring a few promos to the inbox, but it also brought a theme, with two bands whose names end in “-ius” which is enough for me to get off my ass and do a Second Circle. So without further ado let’s dive into Ghost Ship Octavius and Mortanius.
Made up of former members of God Forbid, Nevermore, and HIMSA, Delirium traffics in the kind of progressive metal Nevermore and – to a lesser extent – bands like Pain of Salvation and Symphony X executed. That means plenty of clean vocal melodies and keyboard work, back by hard riffing guitars. In Adōn Fanion they have a powerful singer who can carry the thrust of the music in his pipes, whether he’s getting gritty in Russell Allen style in opener “Turned to Ice” or hitting those high notes on “Ocean of Memories.”
The album hits on some industrial elements at times, notably on “Saturnine” and there’s a little focus flagging toward the end, but when the band hits hard Delirium has a solid prog/power punch that folks looking for their next fix will enjoy.
Tight and twisted, epic and intricate, Mortanius craft in Till Death Do Us Part a really fun, really power-heavy record that, once you get past how singularly high the vocalist is, can be a real blast. This is classic power metal that isn’t afraid to give you not one but two songs stretching over 10 minutes, plus has the balls to end on a crazy Wham! cover. Lots of keyboard and classical arrangements over galloping riffs and guitar lines.
I was put off the first time I listened to the album, amused when i heard it the second time, and now really enjoy it. So maybe three times is the charm? Regardless, don’t toss aside Mortanius or Till Death Do Us Part until you’ve given it a solid chance. There are moments strewn about “Disengage” and the almost 18-minute title track that keep you in fist raised glory for a time to come.
Until next time (which should be this Friday), keep it heavy…keep it safe.