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Viewing death metal with fresh ears - 75%

we hope you die, October 11th, 2021

In the world of basic death metal, you either got it or you ain’t. But it’s all very well offering up these vague platitudes, the job of a critic is to move past them and try to actually understand why music makes us tick, or not as is more often the case. As a case study, let’s take a look at Mexico’s Morbid Messiah and their latest EP ‘Disgorged in the Coffin’, because this is death metal that has definitely…got it *shudder*.

This bears all the usual hallmarks of pre-technical old school death metal. But there is an honesty and integrity to Morbid Messiah’s stripped-to-the-bone approach. There is no sleight of hand, no trickery, and no overt effort to make this sound “of the past” (an endeavour that so often leads a lot of modern OSDM straight down to the uncanny valley). There’s just a rough and ready mix, a dense guitar sound, and a pocket full of riffs nabbed from early Suffocation, a bit of Grave, and maybe some Incantation as the most obvious calling cards.

Because the approach is so basic, we must accept that the experience we are being delivered is an honest one. But this EP goes further, and somehow cuts the fat away from death metal’s internal politics and allows us to analyse the form with a fresh pair of eyes. Forget all the contrived efforts of modern OSDM to create a character or identity by box ticking certain riff shapes or production techniques. Morbid Messiah opt for a rough, demo quality production, with just enough clarity to appreciate the drum performance and identify the riffs. The latter of which flow naturally into one another with very little in the way of “remember this” nostalgia.

This leaves their music nothing to hide behind, it must stand or fall of its own accord. And again, when studying the riffs, we find them built from logical, energetic blows of power, trading on the simplest of contrasts in tempo, of chromatic blizzards and ruminative minor key chord sequences. Solos do jump out of the mix, riding the waves of mid-paced chaos, functioning more as a textural element due to their briefness.

It’s a concoction we have tasted a thousand times before. But Morbid Messiah do it so purely, totally undiluted and without ancillary flourishes or overexcited and obvious nods to the tropes of basic death metal, that ‘Disgorged in the Coffin’ becomes a joy to listen to. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s like listening to death metal for the first time again, but the sheer bluntness of Morbid Messiah’s approach does encourage us to view the genre with fresh ears, and maybe reassess exactly where the more avant-garde boundaries of the genre are actually trying to take us.

Originally published at Hate Meditations