Mortals picked a scene of ghoulish underwater doom for the cover of their full-length Cursed to See the Future. If it’s an unusual theme for an album that draws heavily from black metal — frozen wastes are more expected — it’s still a spot-on choice. The trio’s debut contains six heaving expanses of metal, each characterized by a relentlessness like the sea’s churning. The muscular onslaught brought by guitarist Elizabeth Cline and drummer Caryn Havlik feels like getting dragged into the deeps — a sensation only intensified by bassist Lesley Wolf’s polluted gale-force vocals.
Cline’s guitar attack is as rough hewn and blown out as Mayhem, yet there’s more to this band than brutality. Kyuss-like grooves, disguised in blackened dissonance, and post-hardcore style twists and turns keep things interesting on multipartite thrashers like opener “View from a Tower.” But while they are from Brooklyn, this is no self-conscious art project. Rather, Cursed to See the Future is the kind of album you get when musicians play together until they hit on their own rich vein of material, rather than setting out to make music in a certain genre or with one particular inspiration. The honesty of that approach shows in the music and makes for an album that’s raw and exhilarating, even over the course of a nine-minute beast like “The Summoning.” It doesn’t hurt that every moment is as dark and heavy as, well, being at the bottom of the ocean.