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Relic from a doomed past - 72%

colin040, January 23rd, 2020

Ever since doom metal has been discovered, a sense of heaviness has often been associated with it. Be it Black Sabbath who started it all, the Candlemass / Solitude Aeternus duo who gave doom its epic touches or the doom/death metal camps that started to form in the early 90’s. As time went, plenty who belonged to the last category would either split-up or turn into gothic rock instead. Not Morgion. On Among Majestic Ruins at least, these guys were still using ingredients that were discovered some years ago. Really, if you’re already familiar with plenty of early treasures, this album shouldn’t come as a surprise, even if it’s a welcome (if unessential) addition to your doom/death metal collection. The ingredients are as followed:

Big riffs inspired by Tom Warrior’s pre-experimental phase.
Sentimental leads most likely inspired by Paradise Lost circa Gothic.
Bellowing growls that once in a while get alternated with brief spoken passages and anguished shrieks.
Keys that lighten up the mood a little and provide as a backup instrument.
Thick bass lines that remind one the overall tuning of this album certainly isn’t in E standard (or even close to it, for that matter!)

Listening to Among Majestic Ruins feels like one goes on a journey in search for eternal wisdom. The mood never turns nihilistic or depressive, but guitar leads sound sorrowful enough to make one’s hair stand up. Once the pacing speeds up, the crushing guitars are something to behold - resulting into an ominous presence that contrasts with the grandiose majesty the keys summon, something I’m also very much fond of. The last two minutes of ‘’Baskin Under a Blacksun Dawning’’ should be vivid enough to make one imagine hovering on the pillars found on the cover artwork after all. Yet from a critical viewpoint I’d argue this album is a bit so-so and It's also ironic how the band seems to operate best at their most aggressive, since those moments are rather brief. Better moments include the intense tremolo riff attack appearing on ‘’Relic of a Darkened Past’’ and maliciousness pounding halfway through ‘’Invalid Prodigy’’ should cause a huge adrenaline boost. While I'm certainly fond of overall intent that these compositions are about, the execution leaves me rather cold. The passive development of ‘’In Ashen Tears’’ certainly is an disadvantage, given the length of the track and its lack of grinding riffs, while ‘’Travesty’’ despite sharing similar themes with the rest of the album, sounds pleasant - just not great. Perhaps two to three minutes of this track could have worked as a good opening for the album but that's about it.

I also have mixed feelings about this album's duration, as a thirty four doom/death record seems short, but this might not have been worth mentioning if the ride was exciting the beginning to the end. Could an extra solid song or two influence my judgement for the better instead? It just makes me wonder. Among Majestic Ruins certainly had all the right ingredients to make it work, but those are not enough to make a dish stand out! To finish off my review, I will say something positive: Among Majestic Ruins is a lot better than what several (once) doom/death metal bands were aping for at the time. I won't mention any names - you know who you are!

Majestic Indeed.... - 85%

RickJames, June 5th, 2006

I snagged this one for a small price from a small bunch of cds a friend was selling. I had no idea that Among Majestic Ruin was Morgion’s first release, so I thought I was sure to have some interesting listening ahead. And indeed, it’s a stimulating listen.

The landscapes created by grandiose songwriting brings along some interesting interpretations. “In Ashen Tears” brings to me some vista of an ill-fated farewell or some epic failing of the hero’s prototype, e.g. Oedipus. “Travesty” does more than its fair share, moving from one horizon to another, with short, yet interesting changes here and there. I think my favorite track is “Basking Under a Blacksun Dawning,” with the perfect combination of simple yet epic death metal riffs amongst an even more grandiose musical milieu.

This album is atmospheric just as others are. However, this release is much more death/doom than their other releases. The music could be compared and contrasted to the likes of Obscured or some of the earliest Amorphis releases in its epic/atmospheric death metal, although this one’s a bit rough around the edges. I think the production suits the death and doom sound, in any case. The songwriting is excellent, and maintains a significant ability for the band to transition between death and doom, interestingly at times melding them together as well. The atmospheric nature also works as a transition in many cases. Ed Parker’s keys are used very tastefully; the second track “In Ashen Tears” is a well-rounded example. The music is average in technicality, but with what musicianship they display surely heralds the band in its beautiful, yet melancholic nature.

This album is fairly good, although it seems like it should’ve been an EP. It’s too short for my taste, but it exceeds in quality more than quantity in this case.

Dark, gloomy and BRILLIANT. - 80%

Snxke, July 28th, 2004

A band that yoinks their name from a fantasy series is normally not the sort of band I would be quick to support but Morgion are a death-doom fest that cannot be easily ignored. This startling produced record is thick with heavy bass-oriented riffs, clear leadwork and rolling-thunder drumming that brings life to a shocking slow rhythm section. Morgion craft longer epics that slide between mid-paced Sabbath groove (not Pantera groove) and slower doom pieces that make one think of Eyes of Ligeia. Solid chops, grunting (but not silly) vocals and well planned movements help one get into the darker mindset that is intially clouded by the strange-fantasy aspect.

There isn't one clunker on this black morass of doom, in fact it's one of the few CD's I play from end to end without needing to look at the insert to figure which songs I wish to skip. This is incredibly rare, as few bands can keep my attention beyond the rare classic song they drag up. While few of these songs stand as "metal classics" on their own...the flow of the album lets the songs wind in and out like a story (though tasteful, the music - not the lyrics- tells the story here)...I am truly impressed with the thematic musical narration presented here.

Morgion are unsung heroes in many ways...but they've mixed the best of death and doom metal and get my full endorsement. I suggest that you pick this up, possibly more than any other CD they have released since it's the most accessible Morgion effort.