After so many post-gaze projects, it’s refreshing to hear a band veer away from the typical tenets of a slowly tiring sub-genre. A Path To Fire, the debut from Nashville’s Mortal Thrall, opts to take the post-black elements we’re familiar with and wrap them in far-ranging layers, whether it be classical harmonies from the Baroque period or modern electronic synth to add tonal punctuations to their fierce sound. Today Nine Circles is honored to premiere the video for the album’s title track, so check it out below.
Bathed in a fiery orange glow, the video for “A Path To Fire” is ripe with religious iconography in between the band performance, and that’s not there for decoration. Conceptually the album addresses the increasing grip of organized religious and its persecution of anyone not in line with its rhetoric. It does this through the story of Maria de los Dolores Lopez, one of the final victims of the Spanish Inquisition, long suppressed until her story came to light in the 1990s. It’s a story and pattern that hits particularly hard for vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Todd Harris, who composed the album during lockdown and found in the story parallels that rang all too true based on his experiences as a gay man living through these challenging times. Harris notes:
“It paralleled for me many of the same things that women, people of color, and the LGBTQIA+ community deal with today. She was courageous and outspoken in a very dangerous period and refused to be silenced in her beliefs, even though they were highly unorthodox. I’ll let the lyrics fill in the details, but I hope this album will resonate for anyone who feels beat down by society.”
Further tying together the conceptual themes of the album with the visual palette and religious symbols is something more fundamental; namely, the classic videos Harris grew up with, solidifying his love for metal. Harris further notes:
“When talking to the director Malcolm Pugh about the direction that I wanted the video to take, I was thinking a lot about the videos you’d see from the Peaceville label back in the early 90s. Those sort of abstract gothic metal videos that sort of put you into their world. I feel like that was definitely achieved here while highlighting some of the key points surrounding the track.”
Achievement unlocked, indeed. Sonically the track kicks off with a dense, layered swirl of guitars before kicking into some serious overdrive with blast beats and a ringing melody line, effortlessly shifting in and out of different tempos and key changes to direct different moods for each section of the song. The riffs are exquisite: check out the section around the 2:30 mark to see how the band can take a sharp left into an almost progressive metal vein without it feeling like an abrupt juxtaposition.
Even better – having spent a few days with it now I’m happy to say “A Path To Fire” is completely consistent with the rest of the album. You can find out for yourselves when A Path To Fire releases May 20 courtesy of Trepanation Records. Until then, keep your feet on the path ahead, follow Mortal Thrall via their various social media links, and maybe take this lead-off track for one, two, or a hundred spins.