Back in 2011, a website called Cryogenic Husk that curated online mixtapes asked me to put together a “Mortician 101” mix for them. To say that this was a labor of love would be a gross understatement, as the “heaviest band on the planet” has long been one of my favorite death metal bands… hell, they’re one of my favorite bands period.
Sadly, the original Cryogenic Husk website has long since gone the way of the dodo (I think they’re on Tumblr now) and with it my Mortician mix. By some miracle I still had a copy of the original piece in my e-mail, and given my fondness for the band and my equally fond memories of putting this mix together, I decided to inject it with a dose of Herbert West’s re-agent.
So without further ado, I present the original Mortician 101 mix, revamped, resurrected and sans the long-winded intro (if you want to see me go long on my love for this gloriously bizarre band, READ THIS). Enjoy and die.
1. “Mortician” (Hacked up for Barbecue version)
“The funeral is about to begin, sir.” Mortician’s eponymous song is also a perfect introduction. The band’s trademark jackhammering drum machine, ultra-low vocals and down-tuned-to-hell guitar and bass grooves are all present and accounted for. This song always reminds me of the scene in Phantasm II where the priest gets impaled and drilled through the skull by one of the levitating spheres controlled by the Tall Man. RIP Angus Scrimm.
2. “House by the Cemetery”
Many metal bands have paid tribute to Italian horror god Lucio Fulci, but few if any have effectively captured the grotesque, sickening aura of his films the way Mortician does with the title track from their second EP. This song is every bit as dark and claustrophobic as the house of the demented (and undead) Dr. Freudstein.
Clocking in at one minute and four seconds, with lyrics containing only thirty words and not a sample in sight, “Bonecrusher” is a classic example of Mortician’s knack for musical and verbal economy. Get in, kill fucking everyone, get out.
4. “Ghost House”
“Ghost House” showcases Roger Beaujard’s uber-gnarly guitar tone, a tone that’s thicker and chunkier than the scene in City of the Living Dead where that chick pukes up her own innards. The song begins with a haunting, sickly plod and ends in one of Mortician’s characteristic noisy blast-fests. One of my all-time favorites.
Will Rahmer’s earth-shaking bass tone is the star of this track from Hacked Up for Barbecue. The intro features some awesome unaccompanied bass playing, and when the rest of the instruments kick in, the bass morphs into spectral white noise coloring the edges of the song. Very few death metal bands utilize the bass guitar in an interesting manner and most barely even allow it to be audible in the mix, but Rahmer’s bass is an integral element of Mortician’s sound.
6. “Zombie Apocalypse”
Mortician’s ultimate ode to George A. Romero is also one of the most crushing songs in their entire catalogue. All the signature elements of Mortician’s sound gel together perfectly on “Zombie Apocalypse;” a killer horror sample, a trudging zombie groove, burly power chords and of course that viciously precise blast-beating. If you only listen to one Mortician song before being devoured by a horde of the undead, make it this one.
7. “Mater Tenebrarum”
This gore-soaked love letter to Dario Argento’s Mother of Darkness (from the film Inferno) is quite possibly the most morbidly atmospheric Mortician track. “Mater Tenebrarum” kicks off with bloodcurdling screams that lead into some seriously eerie, doomy guitar/bass/drum interplay, just cymbals, slow, static-y bass notes and ominous chording, building up to a bloody and bulldozing finish.
8. “Werewolves Curse”
A bit surprising that Mortician didn’t create a song about An American Werewolf in London until 2004’s Re-Animated Dead Flesh, but better late than never. The track itself is a musical mauling that’s as ferocious as a lycanthrope attack, and Re-Animated Dead Flesh is probably the best sounding Mortician album, possessing a full-bodied crunch and clarity that’s completely pulverizing.
9. “Telepathic Terror”
The head explosion scene in Scanners is one of the most iconic moments in the history of horror films, and the gruesome subject matter suits Mortician’s grisly style of deathgrind to a tee. The band’s furious blasting and overpowering heaviness evokes a state of brain-battering mental torment. Check the weird-ass sounds erupting out of the mix around the 3:28 mark… to this day, I have no idea what’s making them.
10. “Chainsaw Dismemberment”
The first Mortician track I ever heard, on one of those old 2xCD Relapse compilations you could buy for like eight bucks back in the day. Mortician love The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and this track is their tribute to Leatherface’s spree of skin-carving dementia. The saw is family!
11. “Drilling for Brains”
“Drilling for Brains” is forty-nine seconds of total carnage, proving that straight-up grindcore is just as important to Mortician as death metal. The track is aptly named, a merciless exercise in speed and ferocity that’s absolutely skull-splitting.
12. “Be My Victim”
This track is included for purely sentimental reasons, because it’s about one of my wife’s favorite movies, 1992’s Candyman. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it rips like Tony Todd’s bloody meathook of an appendage. It turns out that Mortician’s mechanized death-grind assault is perfect for depicting a horror film that’s as much about urban decay, race relations and the power of belief as it is about blood and guts.
13. “Domain of Death”
The title track from Mortician’s third album, with its wicked intro sample (taken from cult classic Mark of the Devil) and thick-as-molasses groove is the perfect soundtrack for slow, agonizing torture. The song degenerates into an unhinged blasterpiece near the end as the band’s musical sadism gives way to berserker bloodlust.
14. “Procreation” (of the Wicked)
Mortician’s choice of covers is telling. Celtic Frost was one of the heaviest bands on the planet when they wanted to be and the same is absolutely true of Mortician, even if that heaviness yields very different results. While “Procreation” lacks the trademark Mortician death-factory blast beats, the deathly duo still does an excellent job of making it their own, a plodding descent into the unholy bowels of the macabre.
15. “Mortician” (Final Bloodbath Session version)
Closing out the mix is a reprise of “Mortician,” this time from Final Bloodbath Session, an album of re-recorded Mortician “classics” featuring live drums and zero samples. Reconstituting the band as a power trio gives the music a totally different feel, flesh and blood in place of the drum machine’s unforgiving precision. While this re-recording lacks the crunch of the original, it is nonetheless interesting to hear Mortician with a human being behind the kit.