May 18, 2018

Morgengrau - Blood Oracle

By Steven Leslie. Unspeakable Axe is quickly becoming one of those labels that elicit a blind buy for me. Through a serendipitous combination of similar musical taste and an impeccable level of quality control, literally everything they have
By Steven Leslie.

Artwork by Nick Keller.

Unspeakable Axe is quickly becoming one of those labels that elicit a blind buy for me. Through a serendipitous combination of similar musical taste and an impeccable level of quality control, literally everything they have put out in the last few years has impressed. Their most recent release, Blood Oracle from Texas Death Metal crew Morgengrau, is certainly no exception. Comprised of members whose background includes killer underground bands like Hod, Plutonian Shore (whose newest release is worth checking out as well) and Trench Warfare, their pedigree is certainly not in question.

Blood Oracle offers up 36 minutes of no frills, meaty American styled death metal with a hint of black metal atmospherics which adds a sinister edge to their compositions. A key factor in the album’s success is that every aspect of the music is crafted with the song in mind. This isn’t an album where the technical prowess of the guitarists or the inhuman drum displays will steal the show. Instead, every instrument works in tandem to create a super tight, but not soulless, seething behemoth laying waste to everything in its path. Equally impressive is the band's ability to incorporate other elements into their core style. Whether it’s the doomed out pacing of the aptly named “Poised at the Precipice of Doom”, the thrashy intro to “Forced Exodus” that could have come straight off a Testament album, or the vocal rasp and blackened atmospherics of album opener “Blood Oracle”, Morgengrau showcase a deft hand at incorporating interesting and unique flourishes to their solid death metal base.

Erika Morgengrau’s vocals also deserve a big shout out. They immediately reminded me of a slightly more death metal Laurie Sue Shanaman of Ludicra, never a bad thing. Morgengrau manages to strike that perfect balance between intensity and clarity, allowing the occult drenched lyrics to shine through and drive a compelling narrative through each of their songs. The production also works well in their favor – clean enough to allow their tight performance to really shine without sapping the human feel that is essential to this kind of music. If there is one "complaint" to be had it comes down to the bands consistency. While there are no bad riffs on this entire album, the high general quality means that very few segments or songs stand out amongst the whole. So while I genuinely enjoy the album every time I listen to it, by the end I am hard pressed to point out a truly memorable song or riff. Its but a small price to pay for an otherwise excellent record.

Do yourselves a favor and snag Blood Oracle, and while you are at it, spend some extra time browsing Unspeakable Axes Bandcamp page. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

1 comment:
  1. One of my favorite death metal bands! great to see a new release!

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