Many heavy bands follow a straight line—they start a band with some people they know, they pick a well-worn genre, they write riffs and drum beats that sound pretty similar to all the other riffs and drum beats that have been written. That isn’t Mortals.
Caryn Havlik (drums) and Lesley Wolf (bass/vox) met in 2005 while playing in New York’s all-female Slayer cover band Slaywhore. Elizabeth Cline (guitar) and Havlik (drums) simultaneously helmed a math-rock project for four years, starting in 2005. After melting faces around the New York City area for six years, and playing the late CBGBs, Slaywhore also disbanded. Finally, Wolf, Havlik, and Cline realized their common musical chemistry and regrouped as Mortals in 2009.
Individual band members’ musical transformations over the years, coupled with the group’s immersion in independent American metal - the Brooklyn metal community in particular - have taken Mortals in new hybrid directions. These days, it’s likely you’ll hear the strong inspiration of High on Fire, Inquisition, and Bolt Thrower, among countless other influences. But from their earliest incarnations, the band’s approach to songwriting has always been unapologetically unorthodox and sonically elaborate, resulting in riff and drum-driven arrangements that explode in some pretty unexpected directions: the rhythms from Balkan music and New Orleans, the guitars from instrumental post-rock, and finally--after much simmering--vocals from the depths of hell.
By late 2010, Mortals had solidified their lineup and their sound, and started touring heavily, sharing a van on their first East Coast tour with Brooklyn black metal favorites Mutilation Rites and ingratiating themselves to all sorts of unexpected metal havens across the United States and Canada over the next three and a half years. They’ve shared the stage with many luminary acts, including Eyehategod, The Body, False, Samothrace, and Relapse Records label-mates Black Anvil, Toxic Holocaust, Howl and Lord Dying.
Mortals’ breakout moment was self-releasing the two-song “Death Ritual” EP in October of 2012. The group’s angular, clean-singing influences of earlier years had largely fallen away, and the Mortals you hear now had emerged. The EP earned the band much-deserved critical praise and attention, with MSN’s Headbang blog calling the album “a revelation” and an “engrossing and devastating version of modern metal.” Meat Mead Metal described their “complex, expansive songs” as “massive and crushing.”
In late 2012, Mortals were contacted by Relapse Records and signed to the label the following spring. From there, the three-piece set to writing “Cursed to See the Future,” their first full-length album on Relapse Records.