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Horror, Indeed! - 98%

ghastlylugosi, December 28th, 2009

This is not my absolute favourite album; I do not listen to this all the time. Yet, I've given it the highest score I've ever given a just plain metal album. Why? Because it is perhaps the spot-on perfect example of my favourite chosen genre, horror metal. The riffs are memorable, thick and crunchy. The orchestrations are integral yet non-intrusive and uniquely done. The vocals are varied and creepy enough to sustain interest. The production is fantastically heavy and crisp. Let me just mention why this is not the coveted 100%: there are a very few brief instances when repetetiveness begins to creep in.

What does this sound like? We have an amalgam of pretty basic, yet very cool, metal guitar-driven songs, ranging from thrash to black to doom to a slight touch of NWOBHM. This is complemented at times (not constantly) by a wonderful array of orchestral instuments: harpsichord, piano, mournful gypsy-stlye violin, and more modern-sounding keyboards. Compounded over this is an "antiquating" technique, where the listener is treated to effects akin to hearing a scratchy old recording or music echoing from the recesses of a hoary old tomb. This combination continues throughout, only very rarely becoming cumbersome. The drama (and sometimes shock-value) of these compositions is remarkable, it really keeps one's interest while weaving a mood of true gothic horror. Not "gothic" as in the mis-guided descriptions of some of today's music, but gothic in the style of Hammer studio's films, of the ancient Universal monster movies. Not thought-provoking horror a la Lovecraft, but entertainment-style horror of castles, vampires, rotting left-overs of uninvited guests, torture chambers, dungeons, ghosts and witches. If one really enjoys King Diamond's output as creepy horror metal, one will REALLY enjoy this Morgul album.

The lamentably monickered Jack D. Ripper is responsible for the vocals, which are mostly in the black metal style most closely resembling Shagrath, however maniacal moaning, growling, whispers, and shrieks keep that variety at a great level, but not to a "multi-character" degree like King Diamond. In fact, Jack is responsible for almost everything on this, and other recent, Morgul recording. I believe he is at the very pinnacle of his craft on "The Horror Grandeur"; while very good, the other Morgul albums I've heard do not match this bombast and quality.

For me, this album is like watching a very exciting horror film that succeeds in capturing the proper mood. And there's nothing I like better than HORROR and METAL.