Morbus Chron [Sweden]
Sleepers in the Rift
Among the many forms of death metal, bands that play death metal in the veins of Death and Obituary are the ones that least capture me. Having an album art that is as colourful as such also does not help in trying to get me to become more attracted to Morbus Chron‘s debut album, Sleepers in the Rift. The fact that this album is released under Pulverised Records though, has led me to fortunately take a listen to this album and remind me to avoid judging before even listening to an album. One thing to note though, is that unlike many of their countrymen, Morbus Chron does not play “Swedish”-styled death metal. Instead, they are bearers of the flag of old-school death metal, and man, do they do their job well.
Through the Gaping Gate/Coughing in the Coffin presents a dark atmosphere, which will continue to linger in the background for the rest of the album, before breaking into a wah-infused lead guitar line. As vocalist/guitarist Robba comes in, the uncanny similarity to Obituary‘s John Tardy is instantly noticed, sounding like a desperate howl, yet at times going to an aggressive growl. One thing that particularly makes Sleepers in the Rift enjoyable from the beginning is how every single instrument is given prominence on the album, down to the bass. Bassist Dag’s lines are clear and audible throughout, with spots given to him to shine where every other instruments go silent leaving only the bass rumbling. The punchy bass tone also provides the songs on the album with a very full sound, complete with the big tone of the drums, completing the old-school effect.
The band also includes some seemingly tongue-in-cheek moments on the album, with song titles like Creepy Creeping Creep, bringing in a slight sense of humour in the album, yet always sticking to their lyrical themes of horror, death and gore. The songwriting abilities of the album are also evident throughout, and they are able to retain and keep up the haunting atmosphere on the album, such as the quiet moments on Creepy Creeping Creep, where the bass and guitars are left playing lingering notes. Guitarists Edde and Robba also display their talents on their instruments throughout with face-ripping solos, at times playing technical riffs that remind listeners of bands such as Demilich, such as the riffs on Hymns to a Stiff, complete with guitar tones that the aforementioned band prefers. On top of that, there is a certain rock ‘n’ roll feel on the catchy guitar solo on Red Hook Horror, bringing in the slight element of fun in the music.
While many extreme metal bands focus on high octane speed, what Morbus Chron has presented here with Sleepers in the Rift is a perfect balance of speed, technicality, aggression and the creation of a nice background atmosphere, showing that one does not have to stick to only one aspect to be considered “extreme”. This is what makes the album particularly enjoyable, with most songs starting off with an fast and intense section before breaking into a slower, darker section and then kicking off the high-speed section once more, ensuring that there is variation throughout the album. Such structures can be seen on songs like Creepy Creeping Creep and Red Hook Horror.
Sleepers in the Rift is an enjoyable 35 minute ride and is definitely recommended to fans of old school death metal, with a tinge of influences from all over the metal genre. While it is usually comparisons with similar, more well-established bands that lead to me check out new bands, Morbus Chron has managed to do exactly the opposite – listening to them has led me to now re-discover the wonders that bands like Obituary and Death are able to offer.