Morbus Chron

Sweven

Written by: AP on 25/03/2014 14:32:49

Having breathed putrid air into a genre in distress (the American death metal community, so marred by its contemporary incarnations) with their 2011 debut "Sleepers in the Rift", for which Autopsy and Death provided much of the inspiration, Stockholm born Morbus Chron now set their sights on correcting the course of their native scene with this second outing "Sweven" (which, despite the obvious suggestion, is not an amalgam of Sweden and 'even', but an old English term for 'slumber' or 'dreaming'), in liaison with their countrymen Tribulation, and their compatriots across the western border, Obliteration. Indeed, with the likes of In Flames moving ever further from the origins of Swedish death metal and into the fruitful embrace of the mainstream, it is refreshing to witness a band like Morbus Chron recalling the yonder years of the genre in such spectacular fashion.

Morbus Chron have found in former Dismember drummer Fred Estby an extremely compatible producer for furthering their vision of a haunting atmosphere. Without subscribing to a firm concept, the songs that comprise "Sweven" are tied together by a nightmarish sense of death and terror conjured early on the ominous "Berceuse" (which aptly refers to a musical composition resembling a lullaby), and held aloft by guitarist Robert Andersson's tormented screams, echoing in agony, deep within vast cathedrals of darkness built from a deranged rhythm section - courtesy of bassist Dag Landin and drummer Adam Lindmark - and the cavernous ringing melodies and churning riffs of Andersson and his lead guitarist colleague Edvin Aftonfalk. Washed with Estby's organic, netherworldly production, songs like the oustanding "Aurora in the Offing" come to life like demons summoned from hell, its menacing tremolo lead searing through Andersson's reverberating vocals like a rusty saw before settling into an unsettling staccato riff of the kind you'll be humming for days.

Mind you, while blackened death metal is certainly the most fitting label to chisel onto Morbus Chron this time, their progressive tendencies still shine as well, with the constantly morphing melodies and odd time signatures of "Chains" resembling, at times, Between the Buried and Me on their "Great Misdirect" album; and the hectic riffs cascading in between Andersson's growls in the first half of "Ripening Life" betraying the band's lifelong love of the legendary Death. The clean respite offered halfway sounds almost ironic, then, in the wake of that discharge, but its seamless transition into a solo and crescendo that might as well be an emblem of Dark Tranquillity's "Skydancer" or "The Gallery" era shows just how virtuosic Morbus Chron are at penning songs. "The Perennial Link", awash with doomy grandeur, evocative Opeth-esque clean fiddlery, and a stunning outro of traditionally inspired acoustic melancholy, is another exemplary track, there to prove that Morbus Chron aren't just another anonymous notch in Sweden's proud metal heritage.

One of the most enthralling qualities of "Sweven" is that despite being rife with melody, the music sounds no less gruelling, and no less heavy - much in the vein of At the Gates, particularly on their "The Red in the Sky is Ours" record. In this respect the role of Andersson's vocal performance cannot be emphasised more, as it is through his hellish screams, growls and howls, produced to resounding perfection by Estby, that "Sweven" earns its terrifying nature. And by balancing that terror with a profusely melodic instrumental backdrop occupying roughly half of the LP's running length, Morbus Chron have managed to assemble in "Sweven" an album full of intriguing contrasts and dynamics - and in that one of the finest metal albums released in 2014 thus far.

Download: Chains, Aurora in the Offing, Ripening Life, The Perennial Link
For the fans of: old Dark Tranquillity, Obliteration, Repugnant, Tribulation
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.02.2014
Century Media

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