Album Review: Mordkaul – “Dress Code: Blood” 7/10 (Melo Death)

Written by Carcassbomb

MordkaulDress Code: Blood
Melodic Death from Belgium
Released 29th January, 2021
Via WormHoleDeath
7/10

I remember seeing this album title a while back on social media and I think a lot of people, including myself, had incorrect assumptions based on seeing “Dress Code: Blood”. It sounds like something I guess you’d expect from a gothy band or some kind of really campy band but it’s actually a decent melo death album inspired by a bunch of great 90s bands. So here is a lesson about judging albums by their titles with the debut from Belgium band Mordkaul.

There’s a bunch of kinds of melo death from various decades and place, and I guess where Mordkaul fit in is a faster more death thrash with techy guitars. The OSDM influence is abundantly clear, being of a similar ilk to Swedish acts like At The Gates and Amon Amarth as opposed to the more depressive proggy Finnish melo death like Insomnium. There’s a very catchy almost jovial mood to a lot of the album, it has an upbeat victorious kind of sound which is a good break from all the lament I’ve been absorbed in lately. You’ll hear this quite early on with the title track, where the band says the album title – something some of us just enjoy for some difficult to articulate reason.

I love the melodic opening to the transition track “Eve”, it layers acoustic finger picking with quieter guitar feedback building up into a booming medieval jig, it’s a really nice mid-point for the album. I wasn’t quite expecting it based on the sound of the rest of the album this far which hasn’t felt particularly folksy. The lyrics definitely reveal stories that are fitting to that period of time with tales of looming sea conquest and corrupting hierarchies. I’m glad they don’t lean too hard into that theme with the actual music outside of “Eve” because instead of being cheesy they sound interesting.

Artwork by Timur Khabirov

The respite provided by the midway break doesn’t create any lag however as it’s immediately followed up with the uproarious “Aurora” which opens with the kind of riffage that immediately restores the momentum of the album. The second half feels even more technical and atmospheric, giving the music breathing room. It really shows that despite being a debut album, the band has control over the sound. It is however, not very original and hopefully as the band progresses through future albums they will develop more of an attraction that is uniquely their own. There’s a lot of old school death metal, it’s very hard to stand out.

All considered, it’s a good album for melodeath diehards that lends itself well to both full playthroughs and isolating tracks for playlisting. It’s easy to listen to repeatedly without becoming annoying. Even just having it on in the background on a couple of listens there were moments where I inevitably whipped my head around.

7/10

Other reviews for this album from around the web:

Arctic Metal 8/10
https://arcticmetal.no/album/mordkaul-dress-code-blood

Metal-Temple 7/10
http://www.metal-temple.com/site/catalogues/entry/reviews/cd_3/m_2/mordkaul-dress-code.htm

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