Morbider - _When Darkness Returns_
(Dark Blasphemies Records, 2009)
by: Mark Dolson (8.5 out of 10)
Morbider, hailing from the Czech Republic, play old-school "Swedish" death metal; however, aside from the countless bands out there riding the this swelling wave of old-school death metal resurgence, Morbider ply their wares in an amazingly authentic way. Sure, there are bands that are OK at what they do in all things down-tuned and chug-like -- for instance Claws from Finland, Necrovation and Feral from Sweden, or Obliteration from Norway -- but there always seems to be something missing from the aforementioned bands. I don't know what it is, maybe it's authenticity rooted in nostalgia? If so, then what does that mean? Well, quite a few of these new "old-school" death metal bands, take Feral for instance, have members that were born in the late '80s -- just when American and Swedish death metal were taking form. So, to these guys, playing "old-school" death metal is something entirely new. They probably didn't come across the classic albums from Entombed, Desultory, Dismember or old Tiamat until they were at least in their teens, which means that their first introduction to this classic form of metal wasn't until the mid 2000s. By contrast, though, when you get a band like Morbider -- which was actually formed in 1992, but didn't release anything until last year -- they were in their teens during the late '80s, early '90s. So, when they decide to form a band dedicated to playing old-school death metal, they play with a certain conviction, authenticity and nostalgia -- rooted in lived experience -- that these other, younger bands, aren't able to tap. Hence, it can be assumed that Morbider plays their brand of old-school death metal with a sense of authenticity rooted in nostalgia.

So, then, on to the music. What is it like? Well, to my ears, _When Darkness Returns_ sounds just like Dismember, though not as overtly melodic. The guitar tone -- perhaps the most authentic I've heard yet in terms of capturing that amazing old Sunlight Studios sound -- is pure Dismember in that it sounds like a Mack truck diesel engine revving at low RPMS. Morbider even capture that trademark style of tremolo-picking-cum-chug-chug style riffing that became the hallmark of the Swedish approach. This gives the songs that extra punch needed to convince people that they know how to interpret and deliver this kind of music. Inasmuch as this is Swedish-style death metal, you know what you're getting in terms of songs: fairly short but sweet (3:00 to 5:00 minutes on average) tracks, which seethe a heavy sense of cold, darkened emotion; the occasional use of horror movie samples for song intros; a very passive bass guitar sound; and deep, guttural vocals -- which could have been much louder in the mix -- complement and assist the guitars in their convincing heaviness. My only real problem with this album is that the drums sound pretty weak (especially the snare) in terms of the overall production. Although the drummer is pretty capable, the weak drum sound doesn't help his case, as it just lessens the impact of his beats in terms of the dominating guitars. As a surprise, we got a really nicely played and heavy sounding cover of Dissection's "Shadows Over a Lost Kingdom". Vocalist Ondra adjusts his delivery accordingly to try and capture the higher-register style of the late Jon Nödtveidt.

Well, if you are a fan of old-school death metal, give _When Darkness Returns_ a try, as I have a feeling you won't be bored throughout the album's almost 42 minute duration. Make sure to check out the latest releases from Dark Blasphemies Records as even more authentic sounding, old-school death metal is coming our way. When it comes to this kind of metal, this is definitely a label to look out for.


(article published 2/4/2010)

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