When I thought about D-beat or crust punk, “epic” was pretty much the last thing that came to mind. That was, until I came across European neo-crusties Morrow. Returning with a follow-up to 2016’s epic Covenant of Teeth, Fallow explores new territories in their post-apocalyptic progressive-crust saga. Left behind is the exploratory adventure of crunching snow, campfires, and forests. In their place, panic in a strange new world, the rise of new civilizations in the ruins of the past, and the threat of foreign peoples. What is the same, though, is the massive scope of this project. Fleshed out by band partners from Anopheli, Light Bearer, Archivist, and more (with a slew of guest vocallists), there’s no shortage of people power to match the ambition.
Despite their D-beat backbone, Morrow have the patience in execution and depth of storytelling of a seasoned prog act. The primitive nature of this framework coupled with layers of cello and violin make for an appropriate and arresting dichotomy. It’s the perfect vehicle to carry comparatively simple tribes through futuristic waste – cinematic, primal, and most importantly for an album of such grandeur, captivating. Further, the contextual elements like spoken word segments, chants, and field recordings create atmosphere beyond the lyrically (and vocally, thanks to the number of contributing voices) rich narrative. It’s the kind of record that’s best experienced when sitting down with the lyrics and really submerging into the concept.
To be honest, it’s on parallel with and more suitable for comparison to bands like The Ocean or Giant Squid than anything from their crusted roots. Post-metal and hardcore carry the weight of the album from one horizon to the next. Tracks like “Auguries of Menace” and “The City of Gristle” take you through their full range of motion, anywhere from mournful and stripped down (often to near silence), then exploding back with a full-stride gallop. These full-throated and passionate (figurative and literal) outbursts add a welcome velocity, it’s not really until you get to the downtrodden and sludgy album closer “Crown in Red” that you realize how much time has passed. Where ebbs and flows of post- heavyweights can make an album a full-blown excursion, Morrow’s punky design is more nimble and fit to make 43-minutes feel like twenty. If there’s one thing that could get a punk into Cult of Luna, this is it.