Agruss

Morok

01. Damnation
02. Morok
03. Punishment For All
04. Fire, The Savior From Plague
05. Ashes Of The Future
06. When The Angels Fall
07. Under The Snow I
08. Under The Snow II
09. Under The Snow III

[04/26/12]
[code666 Records]

I have gotten pretty involved with black metal over the past year, and it has quickly become the genre I turn to when I want to listen to something really heavy, but without breakdowns and terribly clichéd lyrics about the movie Kids. I love discovering new black metal acts, especially the foreign ones, because they always seem to have a different aura to them. So lo and behold, I stumbled upon Morok, the debut from a sextet of Ukrainian guys who released their debut album on the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, and while the release date was obviously calculated to line up with the disaster, the music on it was—to say the least—less so.

Don’t confuse this with a bad record, because this is not one, by any means. From start to finish it is a punishing example of what black metal is morphing into today, which is a heavier version of its original classics like Mayhem and Burzum. There was just something about this record that felt lacking. There isn’t that “Wow, this record is amazing” moment until the eighth song, ‘Under The Snow II‘, where these eerie keys reminiscent of an old piano in an abandoned church come in over a slow, churning riff, topped off by some of the best high-pitched screams I have heard yet. The final three songs on the record are definitely the highlight, not only for flowing separate from the former six, but also because of the music itself. There were also a few “What…?” moments, like with the breakdowns at the end of the title track.

The rest of the record was less than satisfactory. Normally when an album is only nine songs long, you expect all of them to be the best they can be. If an album is, say, 13 songs long, there will obviously be some filler (unless we talk about grindcore, in which the songs are so short that it’s okay to have upwards of fifteen tracks). However I found most of the songs to be quite average. One could definitely predict where an epic moment should occur, but it never does; it leaves you waiting for it from song to song, until the record eventually ends. That was the biggest problem. I love hearing those moments that make you go “Wow, that was awesome”, and I even appreciate it when bands go out to left field and do something completely different with the song, sort of like a new-age ‘Whole Lotta Love’ moment of sorts.

This album’s only real saving grace (e.g. why it scored what it did) were the high vocals. This album contains some of the best screams in black metal, specifically because it sounds like someone is torturing the vocalist, and he is screaming for his life, which is the intended mood by the band itself. Whenever emotion can be expressed vocally, the album moves to a better place. In the future, this band should really think bout implementing the highs a lot more than they did the lows; the lows seem very convoluted in the mix and, at times, get lost. If they are going to gurgle, make it audible. The new Cattle Decapitation is a very good example of the perfect mix for highs and lows.

This record is not bad for a debut at all though, despite the criticism. There have been plenty worse, that’s for sure. This record just suffers from what I like to call the LDS, or Let Down Syndrome. I had higher hopes for the record than what I heard. However, this is not to discredit the band for coming out with a decent black metal release. Though I recommend this record due to the place of origin and the last three songs, this is by no means a GREAT record. I hold out hope, though. Sometimes it takes an album or two more to find a niche that works, unless you get really lucky. Here’s to those next one or two records, hoping for the best, and expecting even more.

Agruss – Morok gets…

3/5

-SS

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