Album Review: Mental Cruelty – “A Hill To Die Upon” 9 (Deathcore)

Written by Zax

  • Mental CrueltyA Hill To Die Upon
  • Blackened Deathcore from Germany
  • Released via Unique Leader Records on May 28th, 2021
  • 9/10

Every now and again, an album will come along that makes me proud. Proud to have ever been a fan of the artist/band that made it, proud of their musical progression. This, here, is one of those albums.

I’ve been listening to Mental Cruelty since their first EP Pereat Mundus dropped back in 2016, it was a very solid first effort. That was then followed in 2018 by their ridiculously heavy, over the top, brutal debut record Purgatorium. Purgatorium was a fantastic record that managed to crawl it’s way into my top 10 for that year. Then, in 2019, they released their sophomore album Inferis. I can’t stress enough that I still think Inferis was a good record, but it was more of the same, with significantly less bombast than before, which as a fan, was pretty disheartening. I knew that they’d have to change things up to keep my attention, and they did!

I was not expecting the black metal pivot from these guys at all, but let me tell you they can pull it off ridiculously well. My jaw hit the floor upon hearing the lead off single “Ultima Hypocrita.” The pulsating black metal style blastbeats and drum mixing came crashing in with the pitch black, stormy atmosphere and in a matter of seconds I already knew this album was going to be a hit. It also ends with what will easily go down as the best solo of the year; it’s smoldering, epic, and intense in all the best ways.

The rest of the album easily lives up to that single as well. A lot of what is considered blackened deathcore just amounts to a core band with some spooky symphonics, but not these guys, you can tell they know what they’re doing. They actually mesh some genuine black metal compositions and production with that destructive slamming sound I grew to love them for in the first place. Make no mistake, this album is still filled with some of their heaviest, most brutal breakdowns to date. The riffs will rock your fucking walls. There are, as previously mentioned, some fantastic solos on here too though. Lucca Schmerler is a force to be reckoned with on vocals as always, his gutturals are some of the best in the game. Danny Straßer also exhibits a fantastic performance on drums, seamlessly flipping between black metal and deathcore stylings.

It’s a very epic release, the atmosphere is very developed and extravagant which absolutely works in the album’s favor. If I were to nitpick one thing that holds it back from being perfect, it’s that the symphonics are mixed sort of low, which is especially noticeable on the interlude and some of the extended track intros/outros. If you’re going for epic, go all the way! Clearly they’re capable, hopefully next time they’ll crank that bombast up to 11.

Regardless though, this is the best blackened deathcore album I’ve ever heard. I don’t see any other deathcore record topping this in 2021, and quite frankly I’m really glad they made an album like this. Stoked to say there’s a great chance they’ll be making my album of the year list once again.

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