Written by: AP on 15/06/2015 13:00:17

Even the most stalwart fans of Morgoth found it difficult to swallow when, in 1996, the German cult death metal icons apparently discovered Killing Joke and set in motion their inevitable demise with the release of “Feel Sorry for the Fanatic”. That record stood in stark contrast against the groove laden old school extremity of their discography up until, the strong influence of post-punk and industrial proving a disastrous wrong turn for a band who, despite never ranking in the genre’s upper echelons, still held a reputation for producing perfectly serviceable and admirable death metal. And so it came to be, two years later in 1998, that Morgoth succumbed to pressure and dissolved after 13 years of existence.

Like so many others, however, the Meschede-born outfit eventually realised it difficult to stay dead, announcing their return to action in 2010, and following through with a re-union tour straddling the success of 1991’s debut LP “Cursed” the year after. Hope and dread ensued for imminent new material, and unavoidably, after three years of labour, Morgoth unleashed a whopping two-song EP dubbed “God is Evil” last year as a precursor to this new effort “Ungod” (the group’s fourth full-length record in all) which has been sitting on my proverbial desk for several months now, awaiting a thorough dissection. Connoisseurs of old Morgoth will be pleased to discover that on it, the band wisely opted not to pick up from where their most maligned and ostracised effort left off, revisiting instead the style of “Cursed” for a barrage of uncompromising old school death metal bursting with less-than-subtle nods in the direction of Massacre and Obituary.

But unlike those legendary artists, Morgoth always lacked a consistently killer sensibility. The band’s musical output is ridden with as much pure ennui as moments of highly satisfying brutality, a tradition they unwittingly continue on “Ungod”. The first two songs, “House of Blood” and “Voice of Slumber”, essentially recycle the same simple if ominous chords at varying tempi, and not until “Snakestate” at track three falls into a riveting groove, infusing dark and wiry melodies into its thick low-end groove and Teutonic stomp, does the record even become distinguishable from Morgoth’s two main sources of inspiration. It is a rare standout occasion amongst a fusillade of songs that, while holding a sufficiently high standard throughout, will appeal exclusively to devotees of purist death metal. Later into the fracas, “Nemesis” cleverly expands upon the structural and melodic ideas poured into the six-minute-spanning instrumental centerpiece that is the album’s title track, and the Slayer school eeriness and intensity of “God is Evil” and “Prison in Flesh” leave behind them a rather gratifying flavour, too.

Unfortunately the handful of memorable passages is held down by the weight of the elementary instrumental recipes to which guitarists Sebastian Swart & Harald Busse, bassist Sotirios Kelekidis and drummer Marc ‘Speedy’ Reign adhere for much of the record. Vocalist Karsten ‘Jagger’ Jäger’s deep, deranged growling remains as ferocious as ever, but with much of the foundation beneath preferring raw power over variety, the overall expression comes across as too monotonous to carve a lasting mark into one’s eardrums. “Ungod” is a decent, if underwhelming resurgence from deutsch death metal's best kept secret.


Download: Snakestate, Nemesis, God is Evil, Prison in Flesh
For the fans of: Asphyx, Massacre, Obituary, Pestilence
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.03.2015
Century Media

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