Great records seldom come from nowhere; there's always usually subtle – or not so subtle - hints of greatness in every record that leads up their magnum opus. This holds especially true for Portland combo Lord Dying, with precursor releases 'Summon The Faithless' and 'Poisoned Altars' being about as subtle as a brick through the window when it comes to summing up their magnificence. Both are a fiery take on High On Fire with an early Mastodon-esque grasp of dynamics that would have seen them among Relapse's roster back in the day, and you should both buy immediately if you have any affinity for thick grooves and songwriting finesse. Because it might prepare you for 'Mysterium Tremendum'.
Heading off with 'Envy The End', there's hints this will be one mighty record; white knuckle riffs abound in a tightly disciplined framework. Then, they pull the rug right out from under our feet, with a middle passage of such beauty and restraint you'd wonder where the hell it came from. They've changed and evolved their sound, and their third heralds clean vocals, regular acoustic interludes and a mournful reflective tone from their brushes with serious illness and death in the family. So when those factors come together with their already formidable songwriting nous, the potential reward for their ambition is going to be enormous.
So it proves as 'Tearing At The Fabric Of Consciousness' is a swirling bridge that segues into 'Nearing The End Of The Curling Worm', and it's a barrage of old school prime-era Metallica thrash-prog-metal meets expansive Opeth-vibe as 'Severed Forever' uncoils in a seven-minute classic leading into a second half equally and beautiful and brutal and all things in between exquisite arrangements. Lord Dying really are their own unique beast: throwing out other bands to compare them to doesn't do them justice and they deserve to be recognised as one of the greats of the metal genre. The more you let 'Mysterium Tremendum' take over your life, the more enraptured you become as they shift effortlessly between pleasure, pain, grief, mourning and hope.