Mortanius’ latest EP, A Voice From Beyond, is about as drenched in gothic sounds as it gets. From the synth-laden title track (which doesn’t let up on the melodrama for a whopping eleven and a half minutes) to the oh-so-ironic closing cover of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl,” this record is a wet dream for that kid in your highschool class with the choker and the black nail polish who grumbled instead of spoke.
I’ll be honest, I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. Hailing from Pennsylvania (or…TRANSYLVANIA! No, but it’s really Pennsylvania) Martanius’ music mostly sounds like Avenged Sevenfold with James Labrie singing. They’re also very skilled musicians individually, and rather adept at crafting melodies. It’s just that those melodies are so very cheesy. They’ve toned down their logo though, so kudos to them. On previous releases, it looked like an ink-blot test. At least it’s legible now.
The highlights on this record have to be the two covers. Though I’ve never seen the Japanese Anime Slam Dunk, the version showcased here makes me want to give it a shot. It’s so wonderfully gleeful. And that take on “Barbie Girl” I mentioned earlier? Absolutely fucking awesome. Unlike most metal attempts at pop songs which try to stifle the original’s hopeful spirit with screams and breakdowns, this one embraces the silliness that Aqua personified in the 90s. It reminds me of the way Children of Bodom took on Britney Spears’ “Oops, I Did it Again.” Bonus points go to the spot on imitations of Barbie and Ken provided by vocalists Lucas Flocco and Jesse Shaw.
The two original tracks are as long as they are impressively beefy and just failed to make the same kind of impression as the two covers. They’re fairly standard gothic power metal, and while they’re well-executed, I just can’t include them on the A-list.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy