Mental Cruelty – A Hill to Die Upon (Review)

Mental Cruelty - A Hill to Die UponThis is the third album from German deathcore band Mental Cruelty.

This is the follow up to 2019’s Inferis, although A Hill to Die Upon is a different beast to its predecessor. Although the foundations are the same, they’ve been built upon and reshaped into a far darker, more blackened proposition. As such, the Mental Cruelty of 2021 is effectively a  new, blackened deathcore band.

Across 45 minutes Mental Cruelty combine crushing slamming deathcore with serrated melodic black metal. The resulting concoction effectively merges the dark atmosphere and symphonic elements of a modern black metal act with the thunderous guitars and brick-heavy instant-appeal of deathcore and death metal intensity.

Compared with Inferis, these new songs are longer and more involved. Although absolutely still brutal, some of the brutality has been replaced with atmospheric grandeur, aggressive blackened speed, emotive melodic highlights, and more nuanced songwriting. The trade-off is absolutely worth it, and A Hill to Die Upon is a big step forward for Mental Cruelty. Although aspects of these elements were heard on Inferis, on A Hill to Die Upon they’re unleashed to thrive and flourish. I’m a big fan of all of the guitar solos too.

A Hill to Die Upon takes the listener on a violent, atmospheric, frighteningly competent journey into the heart of deathcore darkness. As reinventions go, this is a compelling one, building on their previous strengths and metamorphosising into something greater than it was before. A Hill to Die Upon is hideously enjoyable.

Unless you’re Carnifex, Cabal, or a small handful of others, attempting to play blackened deathcore is generally a bad idea. Mental Cruelty have now joined this elite group. A Hill to Die Upon has surprised and impressed. Make sure you don’t miss out on what it has to offer.

Very highly recommended.

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