Mortar Devotions, “Operazione Piovra: The Lead Chronicles”
By Jordan Reyes · March 10, 2020 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD)

Operazione Piovra: The Lead Chronicles is an imaginary soundtrack inspired by a pair of dark episodes in Italian history—the Mafia’s war with the government and the political violence of “The Years of Lead.” Estimates put the death count of “The Years of Lead” at 400, beginning with a 1969 bombing in Milan that killed 17 people, and ending in 1988 with the Red Brigades’ assassination of Christian Democrat Senator Roberto Ruffilli.

The Helsinki-based Mortar Devotions is a collaboration between Nona Et Decima, originally from Italy, and Aleksei Tsernjavski, performing here as Огни. The result is a tense—and occasionally pummeling—collection of cinematic industrial music.

Operazione Piovra: The Lead Chronicles is broken into five pieces. Parts I & II are most indebted to synthwave and horror soundtracks. The former is grounded in a repeating melodic sequence that undulates until a bass-y explosion hits around five-and-a-half minutes in; the latter is the most beat-oriented song on the album, and the most memorable—its strong, pulsing kick and seething synth lines make a catchy, compulsively kinetic track perfect for planning a bank robbery (or a goth dance night).

Though there are melodic elements in the final three tracks, Mortar Devotions orchestrates a tense, mounting atmosphere of bleak claustrophobia emblematic of the record’s themes. In a suitable finale, “Part V” devolves into post-industrial chaos. Machines sputter. A synthesizer screams. By the time the sound cuts out, there’s not much more to destroy.

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