Good evening, Abyss! Last month I wrote my first 'Metal Miser' blog for MA, lauding Karpathian Relict and their incredible sophomore album, 'Beyond the Over.' As a skin flint who happens to love buying physical copies of albums, I have to balance the acquisition of new music with a budget; which often means purchasing no more than one physical copy of an album a month. This month's pick is by no means a new release, but I was so disarmed by how emotionally moving something so heavy could be that I knew I had to have it. If you're a metal head and old enough to drive, you've no doubt experienced the following: You and your buddies decide to head out for the evening and since you're the only one with a semi-reliable ride, you get to drive. Naturally you were right in the middle of 'Seasons in the Abyss' or 'The Jester Race' when you hopped out of your car last and so when you fire up the beater-mobile, the volume is still appropriately cranked. Invariably everyone else groans, rolls their eyes, and one of your buddies, we'll call him Corey, decides to do his best death growl impression (which isn't very good at all, if we're honest) and proceeds to accuse you of worshiping the devil and boiling cats alive. After you politely mute the radio and remind Corey that his cat Snickers has been missing for a week, you're left feeling somewhat frustrated, as you know just how great this music is. Why can't people like Corey, who often count themselves fans of more commercially friendly metal acts like Metallica and Disturbed, ignore the vocals and just enjoy the heaviness? Enter Mendel Bij De Leij, known simply as Mendel, and unequivocally the biggest musical revelation I've had in a long time. Fans of extreme music will recognize Mendel as the lead guitarist for death/grind giants Aborted. Corey does not listen to Aborted, I assure you- but he should be listening to Mendel. Since 2014, Mendel has had a solo career making some of the heaviest and most melodic instrumental albums I've ever heard. This month's purchase, which is on its way from the Netherlands as I type this, was his 2015 offering, 'Oblivion.' If ever there was an album your death-adverse buddies need to give a fair shake to, it's this one.
Influences abound, and while I picked up on Dream Theater, In Flames, Tony Macalpine and Sound of Perseverance-era Death, fans of true classical music are going to hear things that I simply can not. The result is an album that turns ultra-heavy music into high art; and in so doing creates both rip-your-face-off moments (Polaris), as well as ones that truly uplift and inspire (Pulse). The fact that both often occur within measures of each other, and that it's all done without a word being spoken, speaks to Mendel's skill as both a player and composer. Mendel released a follow-up to Oblivion last year titled 'Universal Omega,' which you can of course listen to and purchase on his Bandcamp page. I started in the middle of his catalog as it was the first of his LPs that I heard. You or Corey or Snickers really can't go wrong with any of them. So did I miss the mark with this one or are you as taken in by this brutally beautiful album as I am? Is there an album that you would use to introduce someone to more extreme metal? Will you put up some lost cat flyers for Snickers? Will my editor ever get tired of my nonsense and offer me a family size bag of Combos as a buyout for my non-contract with Metal Abyss? All of these questions and more can be answered in the comments section. Rage on! JPR
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