Luke Braddick – Drums
Olly Walton – Vocals, Bass
Ryan Saunders – Vocals, Guitars
2016 has been a good year for atmospheric metal, with standout releases from well-established acts such as Saor and Insomnium, both within their respective sub-genre. British Terra, hailing from Cambridge have returned with the follow up to their self-titled release from last year. Mors Secunda (Latin: ‘the second death’) sets out to be a grandiose black metal album, featuring two tracks at roughly 20 minutes each.
Early on it becomes imminent that production is a problem. It’s hard to make out a lot of the guitar parts, and the bass and at times vocals are buried behind a massive wall of drums. Despite being prominent in the mix, the drums also manage to sound a little ‘thin’ at times, especially the snare. The music is dark, gritty, raw, aggressive, and emotional – there’s no denying that, but it’s a shame how much the production is pulling the overall quality of the album down.
Nine minutes into the first track “Apotheosis”, I was left with a prevalent feel of repetition, recycling and overall uninspired instrumentation. The incredibly thin guitar sound kicking in at around 10 minutes sounds pretty cool, yet also that becomes a victim of exaggerated repetition, making it old pretty quick. The song carries on in mostly mid-tempo throughout, and features nothing but guitar feedback for the last two minutes. I get that the intent clearly is to make it sound as gritty and raw as possible, but it feels so dragged out and overdone that it almost appears like a unfunny parody of the genre.
The main problem with Mors Secunda is that it fails to keep the listener interested with two fairly similar 20 minute tracks. Unlike Insomnium’s Winter’s Gate from earlier this year, there’s not enough variation and progression in the songs to not have me feel bored.
“Nadir” starts disappointingly enough with feedback separate from the one I had to suffer through for the past two minutes, triggering my inner completionist. The track is overall more aggressive than the prior, but also unfortunately falls short of being nothing but sub-par. There aren’t much vocals featured at all on the album, or at least vocals that are audible enough to even remotely get a sense of what message they perhaps might be trying to convey, besides meaningless guttural sounds.
As for atmospheric and emotional overtones, arguably a crucial part of this kind of music, I’m left not feeling much at all from listening to Mors Secunda. There’s plenty of tremolo picking, sinister sounding riffs of pure aggression and (some) gut-wrenching growls, which probably make this album worth checking out for the diehard fans of the genre. Otherwise, I would recommend moving along to more varied and interesting music, as there is plenty of that to choose from within the sub-genre.