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Morbid Fascination of Death is the third full-length album from Carpathian Forest, released on Avantgarde Music in 2001. This is the last record to feature both Nattefrost and Nordavind, as the latter would depart the band after this. Their final effort together sees their creation coming full circle, as this album seems to be the most natural successor to their 1995 mini-album, Through Chasm, Caves and Titan Woods. The music is much more straightforward, with only minimal experimentation. Sadly, even after removing most of the worst elements, the end result is still below-average and unimpressive.
The album begins with “Fever, Flame and Hell”, which is an odd intro track that features cheesy, horror-inspired synth. It really does not fit in very well, taking away from the overall impact of the rest of the material and getting things off to a bad start. This is the sort of thing that one would expect from Rob Zombie, not a Norwegian black metal band.
The first real song is “Doomed to Walk the Earth as Slaves of the Living Dead”. The title may be ridiculously long, but this is one of the most memorable tunes ever recorded by Carpathian Forest. It does a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the record, while also making up for the nonsense that preceded it. The old school Celtic Frost-meets-Mayhem vibe is still present, as is the less serious vibe that characterizes a lot of this band's output.
With only a brief rest in-between, the title track bursts forth in a furious manner. This song is a lot faster and more intense than the last one. There is not a lot of variation on display, but that is probably a good thing as it offers less opportunities for the band to play around and ruin a good thing. “Morbid Fascination of Death” gets right to the point, bludgeons all in sight and then vanishes as quickly as it appeared.
“Through Self-Mutilation” features more technical bits, with the riffs and drumming becoming a little overactive, at times. The band seems to be channeling later Immortal, during those brief moments at the beginning and end; however, the rest is more simplistic. This would be a rather average song, but the strange vocal effects, near the end, make it unbearable.
This is followed by “Knokkelmann”, which gets things back on track with a decent slab of old school Black Metal. Again, the primary influences seem to be Celtic Frost and Mayhem, which is not a bad thing. There is a thrashy part that could have been toned down, just due to how awkwardly it fits in, as well as unnecessary synth that does nothing to benefit the track. If Carpathian Forest had focused on the more primitive and nasty riffs, they might have accomplished much more.
“Warlord of Misanthropy” is filler, more or less, and is very much out of place on this album. Most of the riffs would have been better suited for a modern death metal album, and it all comes off as very disorganized. Even the slower riffs are fairly worthless and do little to create any sort of feeling, whatsoever.
The next song is a very good example of how inconsistent and lost Nattefrost and Nordavind often were. “A World of Bones” starts out with a more Rock-based rhythm, early on, yet changes its identity a couple times. The middle section sees the pace slow down, as the band attempts something more atmosphere, only to abandon what little momentum they build up in order to throw in more random ideas to close the song out.
Following this abomination is one of the best songs on this album, “Carpathian Forest”. Unfortunately, it is merely a re-recording of a song that previously appeared on their debut E.P. This version is pretty faithful to the original, except that it is slightly less enjoyable due to the very minor differences in tempo and so on. Nattefrost's vocals are weaker and less sinister, as well. There was no reason to record this song again, other than to try resurrection the brief period when Carpathian Forest had a little bit of potential.
“Cold Comfort” is more of an experimental track, which would possess sort of a sombre vibe (with a melody reminiscent of the main theme from the 1980 horror film, 'Maniac'), but the atmosphere is ruined by what sounds like a saxophone. Whoever came up with this idea should be blinded with a railroad spike, as it kills what little chance this had of being decent, while also introducing yet another foreign element into the sub-genre.
“Speechless” is a similar track that utilizes only minimal guitars and synth, with whispered vocals, sounding more like an outro than anything else. At least, in this case, the approach is pretty consistent and there are no more ridiculous appearances by instruments that have no business being used by a black metal band.
Ending the album is a cover of an old Mayhem song, “Ghoul”. They pull it off rather well, maintaining the filthy, old school attitude of the original, just with better sound quality. In terms of songwriting and performance, this has to be the very best track on this record. The sad thing about that is the fact that another band wrote the song. Furthermore, the execution is not that great, just better than on the rest of the songs. It says a lot about your band when the songs you cover destroy your original material.
In the end, this is another disappointing release from a band that should have done so much better. The music is based in '80s black metal, mixed with Rock influences as well, but the songwriting is just so half-hearted. Only a few of the songs are worth listening to, more than once. For a band with such a good background and worthy inspirations, Carpathian Forest just never managed to live up to its potential. This is even worse when considering that Nattefrost is one of the most recognizable vocalists from the Norwegian scene, especially when he put forth his best effort. Morbid Fascination of Death is just another reason to hate this band, not for being terrible, but for not being anywhere near as good as they should have been.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Various visions pass through my mind whilst listening to "Morbid Fascination Of Death", the third full length from Sandnes, Norway's Carpathian Forest, all dark and negative thoughts. From the moment I picked up the album and looked at the cover of Nattefrost crisscrossing machetes, and opened it up to the disturbing and sexual photos of a corpse painted girl topless in black lace panties slicing her throat and cutting her wrists, to the photos of the band armed with assault rifles and grenades presented as "black metal terrorists", I get pretty hyped every listen still since I first purchased it. Released on Avantgarde as well as a 2007 re-release from Peaceville(the one I own), "Morbid Fascination Of Death" is a distorted look at death, war, blood, lust, bloodlust, perversion, psychosis, depression, suicide, schizophrenia, and genocide in a genuinely entertaining and enjoyable black metal punk infused fashion. Ten tracks are there here plus two bonus tracks which are a cover of Mayhem's "Ghoul" and the demo version of "Nostalgia". This album would also be the last to feature one of the original founding members of Carpathian Forest, Nordavind , and the first to include now permanent staple Daniel "Vrangsinn" on bass and guitar.
The skills as musicians that the members of Carpathian Forest possess individually is best described as a frantic organized chaos, each member being a solid part in the cogs of this death machine. Vrangsinn and Nordavind are exceptional guitarists, true executioners when holding an axe, creating riffs as if they were molding man from clay. As we know later on, Vrangsinn became a crucial part of every future Carpathian release, the new "Nordavind" so to speak. A. Kobro, the only member never to wear corpse paint is a fucking insane drummer, and as seen on "We're Going To Hollywood For This", being cross eyed at times seems to have no effect on this man's maniacal battery. The bass is very audible on here performed by Tchort who as of 2010(09?), left Carpathian Forest to join Blood Red Throne, no matter, his presence here is essential to the style Carpathian chose to play and literally flaggelates the listener's ear drums.
Nattefrost's vocals sound one hundred percent misanthropic and unnerving, trance-like in some spots lulling the listener in with a surprise ambush, also playing guitar on several tracks and no complaint because he tears shit up relentlessly, while Motorsen's tenor sax fits like a glove on "Cold Comfort" & "Nostalgia", very chilling and unsettling, and to my knowledge I believe that Carpathian Forest's one of the first black metal bands to feature the saxophone, way before Shining(Nor) even existed. If an album starts off with a badass opener than I'll usually include it in my review and so "Fever, Flames And Hell" starts off with a military drum roll and a spooky sounding synth arrangement and continues into a violent uprising with no guitar mind you, only bass, synth, and choir by Nattefrost and Nordavind. From there we arrive at "Doomed To Walk The Earth As Slaves Of The Living Dead" featuring Nina Hex previously heard on "Strange Old Brew", this starts off with a truly worthy head bangable riff and ignites into a black metal inferno presenting Christians with the ultimate question: "Can you move with those holy chains?". "Morbid Fascination Of Death" places you into a dead Fall atmospheric landscape, very descriptive in it's lyrics with a very memorable chorus, while "Through Self-Mutilation" is about exactly what it says and contains volatile tempo shifts.
"Knokkelmann" is track five, a "true death" song and if you've ever seen Carpathian Forest in concert, you would know that this tune is a live favorite and memorable with a chorus of "Solfalls ild...!". "Warlord Of Misanthropy" follows and for some reason every time I hear the opening riff, it reminds me of Metallica, lyrically it is about the fall of Satan and the burdens he had to uphold. "A World Of Bones" comes next and while being a decent song, to me there's nothing truly memorable about it, which opens for...dadada..."Carpathian Forest" remake from "Through Chasm, Caves And Titan Woods" which on this version has a faster tempo than the original, and does not have the same macabre atmosphere that the original had. "Cold Comfort" has to be my favorite song on "Morbid Fascination Of Death" with it's poetic spoken form and synth arrangement reminiscent of Carpathian's earlier work and along with Motorsen's saxophone performance, one of the most sinister sounding black metal songs of all time, reeking of decay and death, and I swear if you close your eyes you can smell the fumes of open graves, rotted mausoleums and cemetery mist. Closing track "Speechless" is solely performed by Nordavind, again following the ambient and spoken poetic form but causing way less impact than the former.
Lastly, we approach the two bonus tracks, "Ghoul" and "Nostalgia", honestly and of course Mayhem's original "Ghoul" is way better but this cover is a decent try and has a better production, but as almost anyone who is truly a fan of black metal knows, a clear production does not a better song make. "Nostalgia" has a terrifying atmosphere thanks to Natte's voice and Motorsen again molesting the sax, seriously, if that saxophone could talk, I'm sure it would feel violated and end up fetal crying in the shower. "The Nulun Sugus Choir" is also featured in this song and with every song on any album I like, I try to find something good in it even at the expense of being ridiculous. At the end of this very long track, we hear what appears to be a marching band and every single time I hear this, I am reminded of retarded Giovanni Ribisi in "The Other Sister" and his unhealthy obsession with marching band music to which I end up laughing so hard I cry and turn off "Morbid Fascination Of Death" with "Daniel!!!!" stuck in my slowly decaying brain. Enjoy this release and take it for what it is, black metal for those of us who love and hate the simple pleasures of this fucked up life which we are daily denied.
Believe it or not, this is one of my favorite Carpathian Forest albums. It delivers on such a primitive, yet effective level of misanthropy never before seen!
It is definitely one to pick up, here is why...
Carpathian Forest is a band of many sounds, their evolution is continuous and consistent but they don't abandon their priorities. This albums showcases that with pride.
The guitars on this album are very raspy, fast, and blistering - but also catchy, creative, and just very well handled (as Carpathian Forest should sound). The bass is heavy, sure, but not over-done. It sounds clean, and is effective to the production of the Black metal sounds of CF. That is, it only adds to the mysticism and aura of the band. The atmosphere of this album just proves it.
The drums are refreshing, as always. My point with the drums is that they don't sound like many other Black metal bands do. It's refreshing in the sense that it's a break from all of the blast beats, and all of the double bass you can handle. It relies more on creativity, and just relatively going along with the sound of the rest of the instruments. Kobro is a good drummer, not excellent, not great, just good.
The vocals are... Nattefrosty! The usual kick-ass Black metal vocals of Nattefrost come into play mainly to lay your soul to rest.
Overall Carpathian Forest's "Morbid Fascination of Death" album (in my opinion) is great, and is one of the finest hours of the band. If you are looking for an in-your-face message of abhorrence and depravity, pick this one up because you won't regret it. It will kick you in the gut and it WILL feel great!
Some tracks to watch out for (because they will kick your ass) are:
- "Doomed to Walk the Earth as Slaves of the Living Dead"
- "Through Self-Mutilation"
- "Warlord of Misanthropy"
- "Carpathian Forest"
- "Ghoul" (Mayhem Cover)
Carpathian Forest is a band that has gone through several style changes, currently (although perhaps not finally) landing them into a rhythm based black metal band. No longer sounding like the raw and unrefined sound of Black Shining Leather Carpathian Forest favors a more structured, cleaner, and refined style of playing on Morbid Fascination of Death. While the band is able to bring out many grim and heavy blackened thrash/black metal riffs they can still give a song quite some intensity. Morbid Fascination of Death safely creates a style of black metal that can constantly remain enjoyable, but fails to reach a great moment on any of the songs.
Morbid Fascination of Death does have some different sounding songs on it, but the bulk of it is rhythm based black/thrash riffs that carry the song. Doomed To Walk the Earth As Slaves of the Living Dead has the simple, but good, blackened thrash riff set the pace of the whole song so that Nattefrost can deliver his lyrics. The vocals are delivered quite well, with Nattefrost really bring out a hateful tone that has a hint of Nihilism, that is his vocal tone sounds full of hate but with a lack of care to the listener. Which would reflect the signs the band has up while they play live like “FUCK YOU ALL!!”, which insinuates hatred and lack of any caring and interest in the listener. Otherwise the song doesn’t change all that much and just keeps pounding away with the crunching, fast, and thrash like black metal riff. The song Through Self Mutilation follows pretty much the same formula with some added hatred in the vocals as well as some riff changes to add diversity. It also has some tempo and speed changes that give the song some added intensity. Knokklmann also does the same with the tempo and speed changes but gets super fast at one point making the song much heavier, as well as making the riff crunchier.
The album changes a little bit towards the end with the songs Cold Comfort and Speechless (also Nostalgia but that is an old song off a demo just re-recorded), which reflect songs that were more like Carpathian Forest’s work off their demo’s like Through the Cold Moors of Svarttjern. The songs are slow and atmospheric, with Nattefrost singing in a clam and harsh voice, sounding like he is on the verge of death. The songs have no heavy elements, just slow moving dirty guitars with an overpowering bass line which helps with the atmosphere of hopelessness, grimness, and nihilism. Those songs and the intro (which sounds like a war marching song) add some diversity to the album, the other songs on the album are the same though, just follow Doomed To Walk The Earth as Slaves of the Living Dead and repeat the style. This works since the style/structure of the song is enjoyable, with all good aspects like speed, heavy sounds, thrash style riffs, a blackened tone to the song and hate filled vocals.
Morbid Fascination makes its way as a good release in the catalog of CF’s albums. By no means as good as Black Shining Leather, but a bit better than Defending the Throne of Evil. It has all the good aspects of old school black metal (except the rawness) such as hatred, intensity, heavy riffs, thrash inspired black metal riffs, and energy. This album would have done better if it tried to give the formulaic rhythm based songs a chance to build up to something, like a high note. All they do is keep at the general same pace, only changing occasionally, and not getting much more intense than they start out as. Morbid Fascination of Death is better than a ton of other shitty black metal albums out there, but still has room for improvement. A good choice to get for a CF album after Black Shining Leather.
Carpathian Forest have evolved away from the seemingly endless number of "kvlt" bands and have become the foremost ass-kickers in the black metal world. While one may hate the churning bass, rock-heavy riffs and the like one must notice that Carpathian Forest have taken in the steaming heart of Venom and infused it with the clinical musicianship of the Scandanavian metal scene. Yep, wimps and posers leave the hall...because this mammoth-sounding slab of hell's rock and roll is coming through!
All of the tracks here are equally tasteless and tasteful in the same breath. Hammering riffs, double-bass drumming and typically spiteful drag these hellish rock-tunez through the dirt. Nattefrost and co. have crafted major riffage, nasty lyrics and all sorts of violence that few "atmospheric" wimp-bands could ever hope to convey. This may be more dangerous than anything on the market, as it rocks...and yet is still legit with the God-hating credos of any of the other black metal bands slithering around at the moment.
A lot of people have hated the changes in Carpathian Forest but I find them welcome in a day and age where basement black metal and pseudo-Nazism rule the day. Carpathian Forest can play, they can write and sure enough they can due Satan's lustful nature proper justice.
For all of those who want beefy, well-produced and still utterly filthy...this is for you.
BUY OR DIE!!!