Profound Lore has become quite the haven for death metal of late. Not the over-produced, overly-technical, overly compressed, click-track bullshit that the big metal labels are calling death metal and attempting to shove down our throats. I’m talking about real death metal. Dirty, filthy, down-in-the-trenches death metal that conjures images of the blind dead clawing their way out of the grave. Death metal that invokes Lovecraftian beasts lurking just outside our feeble grasp of reality. From Portal to Vasaeleth to Hooded Menace, the label is home to the very best the death metal underground has to offer.
Add Canada’s Mitochondrion to the list. After generating a significant underground buzz with their self-released debut (the now sold out Archaeaeon, which I somehow slept on), the band has seen fit to unleash the inter-dimensional death metal mind-fuckery that is Parasignosis upon the unsuspecting masses.
I don’t typically like writing about an album before fully digesting it. However, I get the feeling with Parasignosis that I might never have a completely firm grasp of its layers upon layers of complexities. So, in this instance I am writing about the album as way of working through it, of scraping away some of the layers of grime and decay in order to get to the rotten black core. The more I listen to it, the more I begin to envision the album as a living, breathing thing. Perhaps some eldritch horror awakened from a lengthy slumber deep within the abyss of outer space, now unfurling its membranous wings and preparing to plunge from world to world when the stars are right, leaving only chaos and lunacy in its wake.
That is the terrible beauty of Mitochondrion. Sure, one can point out the band’s influences, namely vintage Morbid Angel and Incantation. But their music heaves and lurches with a character all its own, an alien soundscape that is at once forward-thinking and primitive. Yes, although Mitochondrion might look to the past for for inspiration, there is a pronounced progressive/experimental edge to the labyrinth of riffs, ambient passages and cavernous vocals that the band vomits forth upon the trembling Earth with Parasignosis. Death metal’s answer to Rush, then? Not exactly, but in a way, Mitochondrion’s music is just as distinctive and idiosyncratic as that Canadian pillar of the almighty prog. And just like say, 2112, Parasignosis takes the listener on a journey. You aren’t just standing at the precipice of the abyss, you’re diving in headfirst, exploring its myriad depths. This concept of “listening experience as journey” has been a recurring theme here at That’s How Kids Die, and Parasignosis is the first album to exemplify it in 2011.
What kind of journey? I envision it as a descent into psychosis via revelation. Being driven over the edge by some previously unearthed piece of esoteric knowledge, much in the way that Walter Gilman was driven insane by the perverse geometry of the Witch House. Indeed, Parasignosis is the sound of the black tendrils of madness slithering around the borders of your mind, looking for a weak spot, so desperate to get in, to insinuate itself into your being, and to ultimately take over.