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Morbific - Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm

MORBIFIC: Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm - 69%

MetalAdjacent, December 29th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, Digital, Me Saco un Ojo Records

You’d be hard-pressed to find any band with a collection of more gloriously named songs than the slabs of old school death metal that grace MORBIFIC’s second full-length “Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm”. If the song titles are anything to go by, while we’re eating our breakfast out of plastic bowls, the boys in MORBIFIC are devouring their meals out of the open skulls of their enemies in the kitchen of their meth mansion, celebrating another successful harvest of heads. But naming songs is pretty far down the to-do list in terms of MORBIFIC’s creative onslaught on the death metal genre, and “Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm” offers up an entire soundtrack for those who need to bind, torture and snuff their way to metallic victory.

It doesn’t take but a few seconds into the first song to realize that this is going to be a HEAVY album. After an ominous keyboard swell, the band comes in with a bass so ridiculously deep, sludgy and nasty that you don’t so much hear it as feel it. I’m sure if MORBIFIC has neighbors near their practice place they’d have to attach the china cabinets to the walls, lest the sheer gargantuan seismic waves generated by bass player Jusa’s four-stringed assault cause a porcelain disaster. There are elements of brutal New York death metal band MORTICIAN in this sound, but MORBIFIC comes across as a much more organic and raw version of the death metal that the former band has made. Onni’s drums aren’t so much sloppy as they are deceptively complex and varied, and it's this wild flailing of sticks that makes traditional death metal like this such a percussive delight. Indeed, there are songs on the album where Onni’s drum patterns seem to be at the forefront of the song, while Jusa and guitar player Olli lay back and paint the fills with brutal layers of filth. Jusa’s vocals are a guttural after-thought, buried in the mix, another color in the sonic palette of disgust that MORBIFIC has used to paint this portrait of aural misery.

Second song “Bind, Torture, Snuff” is one of the best examples of all of this coming together. It’s a mix of traditional death metal, coupled with some really cool punkish riffs over the chorus, where Onni’s drums play an almost rockabilly-like sway with the snare while Jusa growls about drugging, cuffing, binding, torturing and snuffing some unfortunate soul. “Suicide Sanctum” is a mid-tempo banger that also leans into the dirty, sludgy, punk side of old school death metal, with some cool alternating tremolo picking and nasty little pull-offs that make up one of the three or four motifs buried in this celebration of self-harm. The song devolves into a doom-inspired slog through the mud before transitioning into the album’s intermission, “Initiation into Oblivion'': an ominous, dark, ambient-inspired bass-driven instrumental, punctuated with the obligatory church-bells of heavy metal infamy.

“Meth Mansion Murders”- clearly the best use of alliteration in modern metal history- is an album highlight. There’s a lot to unpack here: the song is a groove-laden, pure, old-school death metal delight about the worst meth lab ever. It starts with a four-to-the-corpse-covered floor beat, before dropping into the melodic lead that serves as the song's motif before the inevitable collapse into inhumanely fast, blackish riffing. There’s even something like a solo tacked onto the end of the song. With lines like “no one is looking for the dead crackheads/undead feast on human flesh and meth” it’s clear that MORBIFIC can still manage to keep a smirk on their faces while surrounded by the carnage of a houseful of tweaking homicidal zombies.

While “Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm” isn’t breaking any new ground, it’s a respectful, fun-filled (albeit a disturbing, gory kind of fun) take on old school death metal. A sound this full from a three-piece deserves to be heard, and the incessant, putrid racket these kids are making makes it that much harder not to hear it, even if you tried. It’s a solid contribution to death metal lore. And while most of us would agree it’s best to avoid being baptized in the fluids of decay, as MORBIFIC would like us to think, if that decay is being sprayed from beyond-the-pale bass tones, gut-churning guitar riffs and and the deplorable destruction of drums, than consider us all disciples of the MORBIFIC clan.

Squirm Forth Blasphemies - 70%

Sweetie, December 21st, 2022

Last year, I was blown away by the sheer intensity and raw tactics of Morbific’s debut album, Ominous Seep Of Putridity. Upon hearing that they had another one barely over a year following, you can imagine the excitement that reigned over me. This Finnish group crafts its sound around an unforgiving and dry dose of desolate stench. For the most part, they would use the noisier atmosphere to their advantage, which is also applied to Squirm Beyond The Mortal Realm.

Straightforward construction is inevitably the focus, borrowing much inspiration from the classics of the genre. It’s something that can usually fare well for a new band, but will run a bit stale if not expanded upon. This isn’t the case for Squirm Beyond The Mortal Realm, however I’ll admit that some of the charm that the debut beheld has simmered away. The purely robust and noisy layering gets a bit flattened, especially with the drums not having the same ferocious presence they had before. There’s also a step-back in diversity, feeling like this may have been rushed a little, recycling from the prior album; sloppier vocals were another end result of that.

Don’t mistake this for me disliking it, though. The groove factor was retained very well, and the use of repetition is still stronger than ever. “Suicide Sanctum” has loads of treasure, a beefier tune that boasts superior leads and memorable rhythm passages. The wicked sharp and fast fun of “Meth Mansion Murders” is also notable, shaking up the continuous tread of chunky foundation. Even the bassy transition of the instrumental “Initiation To Oblivion” felt refreshing.

I’d hardly say that this is a fluke, and Morbific’s second record is certainly worth hearing. It just feels a bit rushed, holding little light in comparison to its preceding counterpart. All I really think that’s needed is time, as this shows signs of a band taking the ferocious angle of disgust and looking for a way to cement their identity. I look forward to what comes next.

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Baptized in the Fluids of Decay - 85%

Nattskog7, October 24th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, 12" vinyl, Me Saco un Ojo Records (Limited edition, 3 colors)

Finnish death metal trio Morbific are back with their second full length. After an amazing debut, I hold high hopes for this one.

Gloomy samples start off the record before the mortifying stench of rotten riffs and jumpy drums kick into a calamity of crushing death metal. Those tasty mid-tempo hooks harken back to the old school gloriously with a fuzzy guitar tone and equally saturated bass chainsawing its way through pummelled percussion, met only by the equally vile odour of gurgling snarls. Much like on the debut and shorter releases, Morbific blend their own Finnish forefathers with a touch of the Swedish sound but more than anything; American classics such as Autopsy, Rottrevore, Funebrarum and the like. Punishingly heavy, low-tuned and primitive, there is no escaping the titanic strength of these opening tracks which fill the skull with putrescent ichor.

Occasional lead breaks are the closest thing we hear to respite from the punishing rhythmic blows, more often than not giving a simple but evocative bit of high end eeriness before delving back into the swampy depths. As can often be the case (with a good band anyway), this power-trio has a massive sound that is truly formidable and crushing. Monstrously gritty production further adds to this inescapably monolithic sound, interesting added a bit of synth flare here and there for maximum terror. While some might find the dirtiness of the sound harder to contend with, I personally find it fits Morbific’s rancid vision and sound like a fleshy glove. For instance “Suicide Sanctum” has one of the nastiest riffs of recent memory. It’s simple, but so damned savage and groovy. This album certainly feels a bit crustier than before, but to me this plays to their strengths and furthers their mouldy legacy gloriously.

Furious until the last, there is a pretty consistent rhythmic bashing that spreads across the entire band, while the guitars take enough angular shifts to keep things interesting. Like a dirge of dirt, there is denying that Morbific achieve the truly inconceivable levels of brutality and barbarity they clearly seek, so I think it is important to note when a band fulfils their own vision as has happened here. Creating art for themselves to be proud of and enjoy playing should always be a prime focus of a band as this excitement is contagious for us listeners, and I do not doubt for a moment Morbific love what they do. The use of Chase’s art (who also did the debut), felt perfectly suited to the expansive rotted realm that is alluded to in the title, giving the resplendent rancidity a suitable aesthetic to match its sonic torments. A natural, grotesque sequel to “Ominous Seep Of Putridity”, this feels like the next mangled step for Morbific and one that deserves all death metal maniacs to become zombified by.

Another reigning triumph for Finnish death metal, this young trio known as Morbific have given us one of 2022’s filthiest records by a long shot. Much like their debut, it’s high quality old school death metal, so summarising it might be redundant. Instead, I suggest opening your noses to the carnal, cryptic stench of this LP and you shall not be disappointed.

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