Although Scandinavia was superior in the beginning of the 90’s regarding the extreme metal sound, there was also a great amount of mobility in the Mediterranean. In Greece, the new wave of black metal had just rose, with bands such as Varathron, Rotting Christ, Thou Art Lord and Necromantia, while in Italy were Necromass, Necrodeath, Opera IX and Mortuary Drape.
Mortuary Drape were formed in 1986 in Alessandria, which is part of the Piedmont region in Italy. A haunted place, reknown for its dark and spooky aura. Their urban legends about witches, demons and dark spirits had a huge impact in Mortuary Drape’s thematology. With all the necromantic influences and the doom/occult spices that added in their blackened death metal sound, they veiled in the right way both their music and their stage presence. It was sure that their debut would cause a sensation, not necessarily by the time of its release, later as well.
In 1994, ‘All The Witches Dance” is out. During the time of its’ release, two of the three founding members of the band quit, with Wildness Perversion being the only original member from then and on. The photograph used for the cover artwork, creeped out way more people than the notorious “Dawn of The Black Hearts” by Mayhem that came out one year afterwards. The photo indicates a dug up corpse and looks like a 70’s splatter VHS film poster. No embelishments, no photoshops. Just a plain photo. Rumor has it that the corpse is one of the member’s grandmother, unburied and photographed on her grave, with all the funeral objects around. Some others claim that it comes from a cave in Italy, where everything remains conserved due to weird wind activities. Wildness Perversion claimed in an interview that the photo was taken right after a necromantic rite. It was shot by the founder of Unisound Records, Panagiotis Tzanetatos. It was by far the best choice for an album like that, as it is.
The album starts with a long introduction, “My Soul”, which in the original press of the album by Unisound Records, becomes one with the next track, “Primordial”. “My Soul” sounds like a creepy invocation in Latin, under the moonlight in a totally frozen atmosphere. The way “Primordial” enters the track, is the annihilation of everything. “Destroy the Church of the Priest!”. Thus, the entire atmosphere of the record is testified. Mournful, heavy, obnoxious, funeral-like. “Astral Bewitchment” is a combination of Autopsy with some Sabbath riffs. “Funeral Chant” is exactly how the title describes it; a funeral chant under the auspices of the band along with some atmospheric elements, just like “Larve”. Along with the deathly element, the fast paced drums and the demonic riffs indicate the band’s direct influences; Venom, Bathory and Celtic Frost. “Tregenda (Dance In Shroud)” is perhaps the highlight of the album and sounds like a witch coven trying to lure innocent souls to their dance, and somehow opens a new era for the record, with many more thrash elements after a small interference by “The Chain”. By the end, the sharp, yet melodic guitars and its heavy riffs sound like cutting a moisture winternight in half, while the band with the laments provided by the female vocals and the deathly tolls, warm up the atmosphere by holding candles and mumbling solitary chants.
Mortuary Drape are due to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “All The Witches Dance” at the Temple in Athens on February 16th, along with Slaughtered Priest.