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Morgul is a moniker that will probably be new except to those that have dedicated themselves to symphonic black metal. Morgul is pretty much the solo project of the malicious mind of Jack D. Ripper, with the exception of a drummer up until 1999. This work of art is Morgul’s latest product, which dates back to April 18, 2005. Generally speaking, I would loosely classify the album as symphonic black metal, but it gets out of those boundaries quite often, touching upon death metal and even industrial metal.
Jack’s project has always changed the sound of its albums, starting with pseudo generic melodic black metal with its first two albums, the first one having a much darker atmosphere, and the second focused on a melodic and epic setting. The third, The Horror Grandeur, is where the magic really started with the band, using orchestration and synths, together with black metal, to create a scenery that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror film. Sketch of Supposed Murder, focused more on guitar melodies while adding several influences, like gothic metal and industrial metal. All this finally influenced and made possible the album in question.
All Dead Here… is probably the band’s heaviest album to date, and the causes of this are the death metal influences on the guitars and drums. The song “Shackled” has many of the guitar riffs and melodies influenced by death metal. In case you are unfamiliar with this style, the instrument plays very crunchy and repetitive notes, which are of course, very high in the sound mix. The drumming is also quite loud in most songs, which only makes it that much heavier.
Out of all of the influences in the album, probably the most deteriorating one to the sound is the death metal one. Song structures in this album are much simpler compared to the previous two albums, even song lengths are a bit shorter on this baby. Such a thing would not be too much of a hassle to deal with if the ability to create the darkest and most terrible images in the mind of the listener was not at stake. Don’t get me wrong, the orchestration and keyboards are as prominent as ever, and well heard in the mix. The violin is of course, incredible, although it is not present in all of the songs, or that often.
It seems like Morgul has taken a number of steps backward, and very few ones forward. Positives would be adding even more musical influences to the music, and keeping the quality of the keyboards. The backward steps would be simplifying the guitar riffs, and focusing more on heaviness of the record, as opposed to the horrifying atmosphere. For symphonic black metal, this change in sound is usually for the worse, and this is very relevant in the album. What motivated this change in sound? Who knows, maybe Jack just wanted to be free and express himself this way. Maybe he wanted to create music to headbang to, while still retain its dark aura.
All Dead Here… is still a very decent piece of music, and will still be enjoyed by fans of the band and the genre. However, when compared to some of the masterpieces the band has released before (Sketch of Supposed Murder and The Horror Grandeur) it is difficult to avoid noticing the discrepancy of quality. As of now, Morgul has not released an album in six years, but there is still hope that Jack returns to his older sound and continues to explore a theme that was not finished, there is still plenty of uncharted territory where the previous albums left off.
Originally written for sputnikmusic
'All Dead Here...' is the fifth creation coming out of Jack D. Ripper's twisted mind. After the first two albums on Napalm Records, Morgul even fooled with the ''big time'' music industry signing with Century Media. I even remember 'The Horror Grandeur', Morgul’s first release with Century Media, lauded highly for its unusual combo of dark intentions and scandinavian, or slavic cold arrangements. Just like so many other possibly worthwhile albums I missed that one as well. You can’t have it all, I guess Jack D. Ripper, meanwhile, decided that ''big time'' is no longer for Morgul, broke up with Century Media, released longtime drummer Hex, and moved on with his musical insanity all alone. Season of Mist bought the rights to 'All Dead Here...', the album Jack D. Ripper self-financed, thus, presumably, saving it from any outside influences and pressures.
I love it when the label tries to make you believe the album you hold in your hands is the darkest, heaviest or groundbreaking, more so than any other album you ever listened to. Not true, most of the time, but at least you can get a feel with where the musical direction lies. 'All Dead Here...' can be lumped into a corner of metal where the artist does not pledge allegiance to a genre, instead trying to create something of his own, borrowing freely from many a school. Morgul is like that, dark metal being the most appropriate description. A dash of gothic, a splash of post-black, a pinch of industrial, with a drop of orchestral arrangements. It is all of the above. If crushing industrialized rhythms were subtracted, this could be a decent soundtrack to a b-horror movie.
The first couple of tracks, 'The Mask of Sanity' and 'The Need to Kill' did not inject any adrenaline in my blood stream. Crunchy riffs, the heaviness of which is exaggerated by the production, processed vocals ranging from clean to extreme, more blackened intensity in 'The Need to Kill', but no grabbing power. I don’t know if The Kovenant started it, having donned those ridiculous suits, but the direction is certainly growing with bands sprouting in every corner of the world (The Amenta, Scorngrain, etc.)
The title track on 'All Dead Here...' has converted me into more of a believer. It is here that riffs and rhythms slay in unison, processed growls fit, mid-tempo chorus explodes with sinister melody, and out-of-nowhere violin adds the neurotic touch. This is one powerful and disturbed piece of music. The violin is a great find for Morgul. Just like it was with Tristania and The Sins of Thy Beloved the violin adds desperate melodies in the middle of otherwise barren landscapes ('Hategrinder'). Outro takes it one step further turning the violin wail into that song’s centerpiece.
The rest of the album is respectable, but not close to the title track that made a big impression on me. The gothic-death lovers of bands like Crematory may enjoy the hidden bonus song. 'Shackled' has awesome bass, completely overpowering the drums, which by the way are pretty puny all the way through, and a powerful memorable riff that will stay with you a while. 'Sanctus Perversum' is a bit different, starts with a piano and acoustic lull, slowly growing heavier, ripping the quietness apart only to end in a full circle.
Outstanding Songs: "All Dead Here", "Sanctus Perversum", "Empty".
The first time I heard this CD, I just got the impression that this band was NOT AT ALL the melodic black metal I was expecting, but it was a very good black metal band anyway. It pretty much caught me soon after. First of all because of the catchy, powerful, virile riffing and second of all because of its amazing vocals.
Morgul is a very underground-sounding band in its previous releases. This is a more, should I say, old school, or classic black metal album. It has excellent guitars, with amazing catchy riffs and all the instrumentation seems to fit. Like in any Morgul and pretty much any melodic black metal band, you find slow tempo bridges and strophes. Nevertheless, there are some very blackish, strong songs, like The Need To Kill. In both cases, the guitars seem to find the perfect place where to play a heavy riff or a slow, calm riff.
Amongst the very varied kinds of growled metal I've heard, Morgul has one of the most outstanding vocals(and I should say musicians, for this is a one-man band). The vocals in this CD vary from song to song, and in each, they have a very remarkable presence. This harsh vocal is impressing for the amazing teared effect it is able to reach. This makes Morgul's music even more special, and even greater among the black metal scene. I shall now conclude, greeting to you all, and thank you. I really recommend this CD and this band.
Songs To Keep In Mind:
-The Need To Kill