Mithridatum is a new band, founded last year, of a trio with their origin in both the USA as well as Italy, that went from nothing to a beast of a full-length album on Willowtip Records. Although all three musicians have already earned their stripes in various other bands (none of which I was aware of, to be honest), Mithridatum still comes out of the blue. But, that is what makes life interesting, expect the unexpected, right?
This trio mixes the best of modern Technical Death Metal with the inimitable and ingenious of the Black Metal we have heard coming out of Iceland in recent years. Wild and expressionistic tempo changes and breaks cross swords with contrary riffs and challenging dissonances. The progressive-sounding elements (mind you, it’s no King Crimson or Rush and no Opeth either) and the rough barking vocals stand in stark contrast to each other, creating clashing interests that the band manages wonderfully and astutely. The songs are on the long side but stay within acceptable margins, roughly between six and eight minutes, allowing the listener to maintain focus. The same concept is also implemented in the playing time of the album, which at only 35 minutes is even a bit on the short side, but consequently also keeps the listener on their toes. ‘Harrowing’ more than lives up to its title, it is a gripping album and by no means the band delivered an easy listen. But, if you choose to persevere, or if you have a trained ear, ‘Harrowing’ is a more than rewarding listening experience.
Willowtip Records has always proven itself as a label on which the less accessible and straightforward bands were signed, but the quality has increased over the years and lately it is simply impressive what the label produces. It is a pity that the distribution in Europe still leaves much to be desired.