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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!