ALBUM REVIEW: Mental Cruelty – A Hill To Die Upon

Release Date: May 28th 2021
Label: Unique Leader Records


When reaching into the extreme depths, can you be sure that you will ever see the light again? Hopefully so as Mental Cruelty take our hand and escort us to ‘A Hill To Die Upon’.

Atypical opener ‘Avgang’ builds up the tension with acoustic guitars and wailing solos that aptly drop into follower, ‘Ultima Hypocrita’. It briefly sticks to the same lines before dive bombing into a cascade of black metal riffs and deathcore drops that make for an impactful and exciting start.

The onslaught isn’t just a one string weapon of constantly pounding riffs. There are also moments of clarity and pauses, especially in ‘Abadon’, which mixes things up between operatic choirs and quiet acoustics to make for a clever and diverse array of atmospheres.

‘King Ov Fire’ pushes the envelope to the extreme edges of what is physically capable. A lot of similarities could be drawn between Mental Cruelty and Lorna Shore, except that they have a different take on what is thrown into the cauldron as they keep straying to the sides of black metal and thrash.

Pouring into the blood curdling mixture is vocalist Lucca Schmerler‘s ripping and riling screams and roars that are at times multi-layered to give extra impact, yet they have the visceral edge to really drill the message home. You can refer to the album’s title-track as just one example, where he snaps from one to the other instantaneously.

Ending on a high note, ‘The Left Hand’ is the most accomplished. It starts off in a peaceful loneliness before battering the door down in tirades of speed metal riffs and gatling gun kick pedals. All of this, coupled with epic moments of choirs and orchestras, really gets the head banging.

The quiet moments and pauses for building the tension really makes ‘A Hill To Die Upon’ a much more entertaining listen, and the latest effort from Mental Cruelty one of the best heavy albums that 2021 has to offer.