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Morgul is a band that has remained relatively unsung despite being in existence for over 15 years. Their unique blend of genres including black and industrial metal has, however, garnered some positive attention for them over the years, culminating in the 2005 release “All Dead Here”. This album is very different to later releases on the other hand, being very raw and experimental at once.
The atmosphere is set right from the start with eerie percussion leading into a powerful build-up of synths and guitars on the opening track “Black Hearts Domain”. This song consists of very chunky guitars and drums fronted by darkly atmospheric symphonics and lead. It is also quickly apparent that the vocals are much more traditional black metal as opposed to more generic Shagrath-like screams on later Morgul albums. The biggest difference here, however, is the experimental approach to songwriting. Very often the dark and aggressive songs break dramatically into more melodic and even epic sections. It seems Morgul was not quite as focused on its “horror metal” image here, with many songs, such as the second track “Healing the Blind”, being purely black metal albeit with interesting progressions and structures.
The aforementioned second track is simply excellent, entering furiously with black metal riffery and blastbeats abound. The verse is a surprise change from the intro, leaning towards the so-called Gothenburg sound of the time, a very pleasing rhythm and melody. The song changes again later into pure aggression and black ferocity, showing itself to be one of the best songs on the album. This diversity and unexpected change happens throughout the album, ensuring it never fades into background noise for the entire duration.
It is clear that this is an album from a young band, eager to pour many ideas into the seven songs. At times, this becomes a bit much, particularly in the ambitious track “Ballad of Revolt”, which, despite having excellent riffs and melodies, becomes terribly monotonous after about halfway. This is unfortunate as the song is actually very enjoyable, particularly the growling vocals, up until the repetition kills it. The instrumental “Torn” also feels disappointingly like a filler, merely showboating the talents of the guitarist and keyboard player, which, wouldn’t you know it, is the same person. These unnecessary blunders do detract from the overall experience of “Parody of the Mass”, but I won’t hold it terminally against Morgul, for this is a very strong effort.
The feral nature of this album is something that feels lacking in later Morgul albums, where skill and production take preference over sincere songwriting at times. Here, the songs were still filled with emotion, and while being unmistakably Morgul it is still very different to “All Dead Here” or “The Horror Grandeur”. Morgul did go on to be a great band with a very distinctive sound, but a lot of that talent was already present here and I find “Parody of the Mass” to be a very entertaining album. The atmosphere is incredibly cold, the production is excellent, and the songwriting is very unique, particularly considering it was only 1998. I recommend this album to any Morgul fan, and any fan of all things dark and black metal looking for something very different.