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yeet - 82%

MutantClannfear, September 12th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2012, Digital, Independent

*Note: This review was originally posted here in 2013 or so and I'm reuploading it now that this band is back on the Archives.*

The two members of Morbid Footnote allegedly met via the forums on this website, which would make this release literally one of the greatest things ever created solely by the Metal Archives. The Ugliest King is a relatively unique, captivating, and altogether brief yet satisfyingly complete bit of death metal which somehow manages to be as agonizing as it is fun.

The best way to describe this album that comes to mind is the riffs of Incantation-styled, creepy-crawly death metal, with a touch of grindcore added to keep things speedy and brief. For an album devoted to an infamously deformed historical figure, it's actually pretty well-suited to the music: if this is anything at all, it's ugly as fuck. The band secure the imagery through the ridiculously fucking huge guitar tone, engulfing the music in thick, warm layers - almost like Portal, but the resulting noisewall is much less solid and more like a bunch of boulders crushing everything in their path. When Morbid Footnote pick up speed, there really isn't anything left standing in their wake; the force they muster in the process is actually rather mesmerizing.

It's actually pretty surprising how good the riffs are, considering the state of oversaturation in this general style of death metal, but Morbid Footnote do everything they can to keep things captivating and it works. There are various styles on display here: a few of the stereotypical "slow Incantation riffs" make appearances, but the band are usually in speedy mode where they tend to play rhythmically simple but melodically chaotic tremolo riffs or - my favorite - chunky, chuggy riffs that forcefully stomp, and hard. Admittedly, very few of the riffs are particularly stellar, but all of them are at the very least good and they're most definitely entertaining to listen to.

The vocals are no slouch, either - there are apparently two vocalists present on The Ugliest King, and both sound pretty kickass. The primary mode of low vocals is a low, partially gruff yell which usually sounds simultaneously booming and panicked; it's hard to describe, but it's a pretty unique approach and it suits the music better than I'd imagine any other set of growls would. (Actual death growls, akin to deep and bestial barks, are sparingly utilized throughout the album, and work pretty well, but that might be due to the fact that they're seldom used.) Meanwhile, raspy shrieks, also sounding somewhat panicked and nervous, act as emphasis on the ends of vocal measures and just seem to serve as a general change-of-pace whenever Morbid Footnote deem that one is needed. The vocal performance is exceptionally catchy and entertaining to listen to all-around, though I kind of wish there was more cohesion; it'd be nice to have shrieking-only sections during the really fast sections of the music, as opposed to a constant tag-team. Nevertheless, the vocals hardly detract anything from the music itself, and as I've implied they're downright delightful to listen to.

The deep, buried drum kit chops up the guitar into thick, heavy punches of sound whenever a blast beat is summoned (which, again, is often), which makes Morbid Footnote into an unusually percussive project. Even when blasts aren't the drummer's mode of communication, the rock-like beats the being played are actually somewhat lively and interesting, and don't feel like filler to connect the speedier parts of the music. Part of me feels the drum kit would have a bit more force were it raised in the mix just a little bit, though - I get the feeling while listening to this album that the snare isn't really hitting the music as hard as it could be.

With just a few alterations here and there, this would be a masterpiece. As it stands, Morbid Footnote's debut album is still an exceptionally fun, heavy, catchy and entertaining endeavor, and certainly worth the 14 minutes it takes to try it once. Between the speedy Incantation riffs with the massive guitar tone, the odd yet fitting vocal performance, and the appreciation for efficient and brief songwriting rarely seen in metal nowadays, this is an awesome album. I'd recommend this to anyone with even the faintest interest in death metal of any sort, it is honestly just that good.