Mortal Wound – Anus of the World Review

The Vietnam War era was a grim chapter in United States history. The wildly unpopular conflict was fought with questionable ideological justifications in a half-hearted manner, dictated by murky political considerations instead of a desire to achieve real victory. In the end, nothing good came from it and the horrors of the war’s excesses left a stain on the nation. This bleak, bloody conflagration has become potent fodder for nihilistic films and literature, and it makes sense that it serves as the backdrop for the full-length debut by Los Angeles death metal mob Mortal Wound. Anus of the World is a nasty, odorous slab of groove-heavy OSDM molded from the same brutal thuggery as Sanguisugabogg and the rawest moments of Cannibal Corpse, and this gore-splattered opus is not a place one should venture in search of subtly and nuance. This is a repellant album about a macabre time and the band do their best to immerse you in the blood and terror of it all. Is this something you want to sign up for? Let’s see what you’re made of, maggot!

The album is littered with soundbites from Vietnam-themed films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket, and the album wastes no time dunking you in a blood-soaked rice paddy on opener “Found Dead in a Bush.” Their style is direct, rudimentary, and heavy as fuck, taking a sledgehammer to your sensibilities with super thick death grooves, utterly unintelligible garbage disposal vocals, and relentlessly pounding drums. It’s the kind of song that pummels you and leaves you feeling like you need a long shower at a disinfecting clinic. “Tunnel Rat” swings close to Barnes-era Cannibal Corpse with corkscrewing riffs and stop-start tempo shifts and it shakes you up. The band’s low-tech Neanderthal style works well on these cuts and especially on the ode to napalm, “Engulfed in Liquid Hellfire” where they sprinkle bits of early days Death-styled guitar work into the mix in between ruining your face with fat grooves. “Spirit of the Bayonet” is a standout due to its strong Bolt Thrower / Just Before Dawn influence and the relentlessly advancing riffs that feel like a tank division you can’t hold back.

But when you base your whole battle plan around rudimentary, muddy mayhem, things must be tight and error-free, and some of Mortal Wound’s efforts miss those marks. “Drug Filled Cadaver” is too simplistic and one note, plodding along too long, and “Born Again Hard” is a good death tune run into the dirt by excessive padding, crawling on a good 2 minutes more than it should. Bloat infects several tracks, doing varying degrees of damage, and some songs sound like they get abruptly cut off. I like what they’re selling and want to buy it in bulk, but I still need the individual tracks to hit hard and fast, and the band needs to learn when to fall back. This is a shame, as the 43-plus minute runtime is entirely reasonable and feels just about right. I give them top marks on the use of the movie soundbites though. Sometimes the prevalence of film snippets can be distracting or irritating, but they’re used very effectively here. Especially the way they end this grim-ass album on a futile note.

Sam Shriver (Lake of Blood) and Peter King (Teeth, Lake of Blood) drop the groove hammer like Agent Orange with one ginormous riff-cascade after another. Their playing isn’t techy or proggy in the least with the focus on assault and battery, and for the most part, the plan works. Sam also provides vocals, and goddamn, they are nasty and sick. He’s totally unintelligible and operating from the sub-sub-basement, but he fits the theme and music perfectly. This isn’t a band that will light up your synapses with creative twists and turns, but they do their chosen lead pipe brutality quite well. If they could trim their material down a touch and focus on hit-and-run raiding, they’d carpet bomb the death metal map.

Anus of the World is a very dark, primal slog through a horrific period of history, and by forgoing melancholy for savagery, Mortal Wound effectively captures the senselessness and insanity that ruled the day. It has enough shortcomings to keep it from hitting that next level, but the good stuff is quite impactful and the atmosphere is spot on. Anus inspired me to go watch Apocalypse Now Redux, which is clearly a major time commitment,1 so they did something right here. I’m excited for whatever comes next from Mortal Wound as they have a recipe for disaster that I enjoy. Maybe next time there will be less anus bloat. The horror… the horror…

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent and Me Saco Un Ojo
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 24th, 2024

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