Review by TheOneNeverSeen on June 21, 2023.
Here it is, a new release by my favorite deathcore band. I’m not a fan of the genre at all and disregard most of its famous artists as uniform and uninteresting. Mental Cruelty, however, has always been special for me thanks to their brutal yet clean and melodic sound with excellent vocals (something rather rare for the genre). And this is precisely why, due to not having checked out the singles, I was a bit worried about this album, for I wasn’t sure about how well the new vocalist would fit the band’s sound. As I said earlier, Lucca’s infernal vocals have become the essential part of Mental Cruelty for me and I can’t imagine the crushing might of 'Immortalising Purgatory' or 'Abadon' without them. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Lukas’s vocals, which, despite not beating Lucca’s, are nonetheless powerful and diverse, varying from Marcos of Scars Of Oblivion-like shrieks to growls very similar to Lucca’s (he even offers clean Tobias Sammet-like clean vocals at 3:41 of 'Obsessis A Daemonio' and at 2:30 of 'Symphony Of A Dying Star', which is funny and cool at the same time). The only downside of Lukas’s vocals is that sometimes he tries to impersonate Will Ramos way too hard (in particular in the middle of 'Pest'), which fails to impress, particularly considering other styles of singing work much better for him.
As for the album’s overall sound, Mental Cruelty seem to have decided to continue with the symphonic deathcore style of A Hill To Die Upon. The melodies are highly reliant on orchestra elements and even choir, especially on the aforementioned 'Pest' (I can’t recall the band using choir before). I support the decision to keep expanding in this direction, for, while increasing the influence of orchestra, the band does not at all lose in brutality or heaviness partly thanks to returning to their older style here and there, just like on the previous full-length that featured a Purgatorium/Inferis kind of solo on 'King Ov Fire', with the most prominent example being the Purgatorium-style solos of 'Forgotten Kings' and 'Mortal Shells'. Thus, Mental Cruelty have successfully combined the elements of their previous works in Zwielicht (by the way, I have done research for you in case you were interested, the word means "twilight") while at the same time not trying to rewrite A Hill To Die Upon or Purgatorium, creating a unique and engrossing sound embedding some traits of the two albums alongside Lukas’s uneven vocals instead.
What I especially want to give the band credit for is the diversity of the songs, varying from the crushing drums and rampant stream of evil of 'Mortal Shells' to more slower-paced tracks like 'Nordlys' and even straightaway melodeath (reminding me of Inferi and Insomnium) riff and solo of 'Symphony Of A Dying Star'. Personally, I enjoyed all the tracks to a certain degree and appreciated the band’s experiments like the lyrics of the title track being an atmospheric Lord of the Rings-like poem/folk song or the uncertain 90s black metal-like mood of 'The Arrogance Of Agony'.
In conclusion, while not being the band’s best work, Zwielicht is a powerful, diverse and atmospheric release that most fans of the genre and of the band specifically are likely to appreciate. I think the band has faced the significant change in its line-up well and hope Mental Cruelty will develop their current style even further without drowning in self-repetitions like some bands of this style sadly do.
Rating: 8 out of 10626