MORGUL BLADE - Heavy Metal Wraiths

April 29, 2024, 3 weeks ago

(No Remorse)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 8.5

review heavy metal morgul blade

MORGUL BLADE - Heavy Metal Wraiths

Sophomore effort from Philly foursome, although there's been a couple of online, pre-release singles/videos, and both "Spider God" and "Beneath The Black Sails" have been available since a cassette-only issuance, a year ago (also through a Bandcamp download).

Classy guitar intro, to go along with the first rate cover art (t-shirt design!), then Lord Klauf unleashes his sinister, phlegm dripping (albeit discernible) vocals. "Eagle Strike", much like the local football team that inspired it, only gets aggressive in the final quarter. The unique mix of blackened doom meets traditional metal continues with mid-tempo pounding of the aforementioned pirate anthem, "Beneath The Black Sails". For the first time, dual vocal tracks are utilized, one a normal, almost spoken word, the other Klauf's trademark. At 6:13, it is not only the longest track of the current ten, but two to three times longer than its surroundings. A trio of cuts each fail to eclipse 100 seconds.

The galloping title track is built around twin guitars, one in each ear, on headphones. The lyrics are delivered in gruff throat, but not as beastly as its predecessors. There's a sneaky melodic structure running throughout it. "Frostwyrm Cavalry" launches like full-bore black metal, but decelerates to an almost militaristic march, focused on the drums. Definitely different from anything else aired, thus far: "One by one, they fell, to the Frostwyrm cavalry." Ends with flanging guitar notes.

94 seconds of "Widow's Lament" is like an old Irish proverb, hauntingly spoken above the constant buzz of sustained cymbal crash. After that, it's back to normal. Does that word have any meaning in the Morgul Blade world? "Spider God" is next, a conventional structure, with more aggression (without losing sight of harmonies). Witness the caustic "The race of man has failed" declaration, just after the midway point. "Some violent imagery in "Razor Sharp", which threatens to go completely off the rails, but maintains, ending with a jangly swirl of ear candy guitar.

Of the finishing trio, two are short pieces, beginning with a 84 seconds of "A Welcoming Hearth" instrumental. Initially, akin to a harpsichord, but transforming into a bouncy moog, PDQ Bach segment. "Neither Cross Nor Crown" switches tact, ultimately riding a repetitive, rhythmic guitar hum: "We're coming for their castles, we're coming for their gold." Disc closes with a 91 second "The Last In A Line Of Kings", comprised of sporadic keyboard notes and backing synths (which used to have a greater presence in Morgul Blade, including onstage.

Morgul Blade truly are a breed apart. Drop any preconceived notions and dare to investigate.

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