Plenty of black and death metal bands from New Zealand’s far-flung shores are well known overseas, but many of the nation’s doomier contingent are often overlooked. That’s a crying shame, because the NZ metal scene has produced a lot of ugly music that also happens to be as grim and gloomy as a line of funeral pyres. Admittedly, the NZ metal scene has also produced a few haplessly derivative doom bands, often founded by Insta-cringe musicians with scant knowledge of the subgenre’s history. Still, sidestepping the garbage is easy enough.
Over the years, diverse NZ groups like Sinistrous Diabolus, Meth Drinker, Ritual Abuse, Black Boned Angel, Open Tomb and more have plowed different doom-inspired routes and produced some of the most cruelly fashioned NZ metal along the way. Right now, NZ doom shamans Arc of Ascent are tearing up European stages, and excellent recent releases from groups like Drauchiclit and Shallow Grave have dug deep into the vilest pits of sludge and doom.
Also scoring high on NZ’s colossal doom scale are Mosquito Control. The drone-fuelled doom band’s recent sophomore album, Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age, is their first for Chinese label Pest Productions. The band’s lumbering release is a bruising encounter filled with earth-shattering burial rites, and Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age is a step up – in both production and conceptual terms – from Mosquito Control’s much rawer 2013 debut, Destroyed Beyond Redemption.
Back then, Mosquito Control were a duo. But these days, the band’s vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Fei Yun is flying solo. Yun’s fanatical amplifier worship remains firmly intact on Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age, but other changes are afoot. Mosquito Control continue to toy with spatial distortions and temporal contortions, as per, and the influence of hope-smashers like Khanate, Thorr’s Hammer, Winter, and Noothgrush is still readily apparent. However, Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age sees Mosquito Control attempting something new; namely, simultaneously channeling “Corrupted’s crushing monolith Paso Inferior and Lou Reed’s droning cacophony Metal Machine Music.”
Obviously, attempting to convey the mind-scorching potency of those two releases is a bold artistic – even if, realistically, it’s likely to be an unattainable one. (I mean, good luck trying to capture the strengths of either of those classics, let alone both.) Credit where credit’s due, though, Mosquito Control don’t sound like they’re endeavoring to mimic Paso Inferior or Metal Machine Music. They simply sound interested in experimenting with the overwhelming instrumental and emotional totality of those releases.
Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age definitely ticks the harsh and heavy boxes, and the album works its way under your skin in disquieting and destabilizing ways. Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age’s three dirges – “Your Collapsed Faith in Ashes”, “Festering Mundane Existence”, and the album’s even lengthier title track – are constructed from ear-piercing howls, stripped-down riffs, and a hefty percussive impact. If you’re a fan of the drone/doom/sludge nexus, you’ll recognise that template. Plus, it’s more than likely you’ll also be familiar with Mosquito Control’s creative destination – i.e. the depths of despair and damnation.
Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age’s opening track, the 11-minute “Your Collapsed Faith in Ashes”, slithers through the catacombs as thick riffs buzz with distortion and incomprehensible vocals growl and echo in the subterranean murk. “Your Collapsed Faith in Ashes” practices the well-established art of maximal minimalism, and the same formula is exploited on the psyche-mangling, “Festering Mundane Existence”, which also mines traumatic frequencies and sounds best played at deafening volumes.
Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age’s title track is where Mosquito Control really intertwine the mass and disposition of Metal Machine Music and Paso Inferior. The band weave mammoth, bare-boned riffs and percussion into a suffocating fog-bank of hissing noise. Mutilated vocals pierce the brume, like a demonic voice clawing its way across dimensions, and Mosquito Control sadistically work their gnawing riffs over and over, for 14 choking minutes, chewing your nerves up and then spitting ’em out.
Obviously, if you’re on the hunt for high-spirited histrionics, Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age is going to leave you wanting. The album is definitely dramatic, and drenched in doom, but it doesn’t feature a mountain of dynamic riffs or any hooks hidden in the haze. You can expect slow-motion torment, and Mosquito Control show zero compassion for anyone’s comfort. So if you’re seeking swaggering doom, you best look elsewhere.
Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age is a gut-wrenching crawl across hideous – and definitely torturous – terrain. Of course, that means it’s fit for purpose for devotees of Corrupted, Noothgrush, Khanate and kin. There’s nothing immediate or welcomingly melodic about the album either, which makes it all the more alluring for fans of punishing drone and misanthropic doom.
Like Earth’s earliest work, or Sunn O)))’s harshest and heaviest dronescapes, Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age is both challenging and often unsettlingly claustrophobic. Mosquito Control don’t make a single compromise anywhere, and they clearly delight in delivering intensely unpleasant music. Sure, Morbid Orations in the Pestilential Age isn’t for everyone, but it is the real deal, and the real deal is fucking ugly and mean.