Originally started as a one man Black Metal project, Morodh was the brainchild of guitarist Ragnaar. He is joined on this debut full length journey into Depressive Black Metal by drummer Andreas, bassist Anthart and Astaroth on vocals.
For anyone with a knowledge or interest in Russian literature Morodh is the name of one of the worlds of retribution in The Rose of the World by Daniil Andreev. In these desolate places human souls are forced to live in silence and loneliness to pontificate their crimes.
New style black and roll this ain’t!
What it is, is eight tracks of beatific bleak yet uplifting Black Metal. At times there is an element of shoegaze in the mix but the harsh and upfront vocals mean that all is not lost in the swirl.
The titles themselves prepared me for what was to come.” Desperation, Ritalin, Regret, Fatality, Desolation, The End, Loneliness, Lie.” This is despair and tragedy that you will want to wallow in.
I listened to this for the first time, speed walking home from work in daylight hours. It washed over me and infected my spirit in the way that many of my old gothic and melancholy favourites have over the years.(Thinking Disintegration and Pornography here.)
Desperation opens with bassy strings before bursting forth with riffs and melody aplenty wrapped in anguish and despair. Ritalin follows and if I was expecting an ADHD referencing blast of pandemonium, I was completely off kilter. Post Rock is a genre/tag/ cranial fart that is banded about a lot and I am never sure what the definition is this week but this track (and the majority of the album) gives the atmosphere that I think of when it comes to “post rock”. I am thinking of Les Revenant by Mogwai. The punctuation at the end of the song is eerily fitting.
The third track Regret is when I really started to pay attention to Astaroth. His rasped vocals are effective and, as I mentioned before, high enough in the mix to remain relevant to the ambience of the track. (Ugh Mason you poncey idiot!) The track hits a pinnacle after a spoken passage. A guitar refrain repeats whilst Astaroth lets all the pain of mankind erupt from his larynx. It has the soaring beauty of the refrain from Fragile Dreams by Anathema and causes my hand to hit the skip back button just as that track did.
Fatality (I feel I need to shout that in Mortal Kombat style) opens with clean melodic vocals. As such it reminds me more of Lacuna Coil or gothic metal of that ilk. Not a bad thing as it changes things up a little. The guitars on this track sound as though they have been lifted off the Disintegration recordings by Messrs Smith, Thompson and Co. Astaroth returns to his rasps pretty quickly but the melody remains.
Desolation – despite what the name may suggest – opens with a driving riff before taking off into a more blackened than bleakened musical journey.
It would be folly to continue critiquing this album track by track. Morodh have put together an album to be listened to in its entirety. The atmosphere lasts throughout the running time and I have found it hard to differentiate tracks. Not because they all sound the same, far from it. More because I am enjoying being in the place that these Russians have transported me to , so much that I don’t want to think of the pieces as named MP3’s , just part of a textured musical experience (maaaaaan!)
Give it a listen . Bloody good it is.
(8/10 Matt Mason)