Morgoth Ungod 01The art of the comeback is tough to master, and the odds are against any band who decides to return to the fold after years of inactivity; the weight of nostalgia, expectations, and respecting an artistic legacy make for a heavy burden. Germany’s Morgoth have returned, bearing the burden to bring the unwashed masses a full LP of death metal after teasing us with two new songs last year on the God is Evil EP. The cruel winds of fate (and Steel Druhm) have delivered me their new record Ungod to review and by extension ponder if their “yes” to returning was the right choice.

As Albert Camus told us in The Myth of Sisyphus, one eventually longs for yesterday instead of tomorrow, asserting their youth instead of waiting for the maturity and experience the future was expected to bring. Morgoth have done this with their sound, deciding to return to death metal’s ways of yore with a sound heavily influenced by Massacre and Death circa Leprosy and Spiritual Healing, which is essentially what they did up to 1996’s very rock-tinged Feel Sorry for the Fanatic. Other members of the old guard like Asphyx, Obituary, and Pestilence got plenty of nods then as they do now, as Morgoth was never the most original band out there. They were often good fun though, and in staying with the theme of asserting their youth, they’ve made sure to keep that part of their identity alive.

It’s an easy critical fallback to denounce a lack of originality in an album, and Ungod won’t appeal to those who are wont to do so. Morgoth may lean a small bit harder on the use of melodic leads over their old-school riffs than their contemporaries both new and old, but even a cursory understanding of the bands mentioned above will give you a great idea of what to expect here. “House of Blood” immediately goes for the throat with punishing riffing and drums, its hybridization of Consuming Impulse and Spiritual Healing battering and slashing through a tight two and a half minutes, while the subtle death-n-roll romp of “Traitor” recalls the best moments of the uneven Feel Sorry for the Fanatic; the addictive intro melody is the most obvious, but upon closer inspection most of the heavier riffs here have a bouncy heavy rock gait. It’s well-executed, well-written, and fits comfortably with the rest of the material.

Morgoth Ungod 02

Deserving special attention is the vocal performance of Karsten Jager. The man sounds absolutely feral and manages to prop up Ungod’s lesser songs like “Nemesis” and “Descent Into Hell.” For those unfamiliar, his vocals sound like the result of Martin van Drunen and Leprosy’s Chuck Schuldiner getting caught together in the teleportation machine from The Fly and subsequently managing to mix up their apple juice with acid before downing a liter of it. The impressive production really lets the vocals shine, but not at the expense of the rest of Morgoth. Drums are punchy with the pleasing old-school clicky thud of Spiritual Healing, bass is growly, tight, and present, and the guitars sound great with a crunchy and clear tone.

Ungod lacks in originality, but criticizing it for this misses the point of the record. Why criticize a nicely grilled rare steak solely because you’ve had one more than a few times? Morgoth knows their strengths and plays to them, making something hardly new but plenty exciting. Why not a higher rating? It didn’t excite me as much as rating it half a point higher would imply, and a few merely good songs put “great” ever so slightly out of reach. Regardless, Ungod is a very good record and I’m glad Morgoth is back. If you’re hankering for some old-school death metal, you will be too.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Website: Facebook.com/Morgoth
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.30 | NA: 07.04.2015

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  • El Lado Oscuro

    It is more like a 3, with a little help, but nice review

  • Eddy Ferreira

    Holy shit Morgoth is back!?!? I gotta check this out…

  • Already a 4 and a 3.5 on this month. C’mon 2015, let’s hope for a great year in metal.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Trust me, it gets even better! Some real promising stuff in the pipeline, and there’s stuff that got missed already. I’m impressed with it.

      • De2013

        What? Amaranthe put out a new record already?

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Hey now, I only said better than great year, not pinnacle of the genre year!

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        DHG?

        Porta Nigra?

        Code?

        I’ve been listening to all 3 recently and sweet Satan, there aren’t enough hours in the day.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          It’s just getting ridiculous now eh? Drowning the Light put out a really cool record this year, and Sulphur Aeon is almost out too. I have a feeling we’ll be catching up on 2015 well into 2016 if it keeps up like this.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        With a Jorn Dracula concept album already and a Cannibal Corpse Crimean war concept album on the way, 2015 could be the all she wrote year for metal…

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Seth Siro album cover? I’m going to bet this is a pass before I listen…

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I can never get too excited about his work either, and often ignore it after seeing it once. On the other hand, I’m always pausing to look at anything with a Dan Seagrave cover before I put it on.

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        Dan Seagrave still does good work but there is a batch of younger metal artists really doing much stronger work on the whole. Eliran Kantor, Denis Kostromitin or Paulo Girardi’s work is always consistently mature and beautiful.

        I used to like Seth Siro, but it’s just felt so… Hot Topic for the last few years.

    • Wilhelm

      His boring artwork all looks the same, with the exception of his older stuff.

  • lennymccall

    Did you just do a whole write up about Morgoth and not mention Cursed?
    I can’t even…

    • Cursed was very fine.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Yes. But can you odd? Cursed is a very good record though.

  • Thatguy

    Not original at all – but really solid
    And we can all hear the bass

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      And the bass tone is pretty sweet too!

  • Tom Hardy

    Having read the review and rating, filled with optimism, I listened to the track and thought “This is bollocks”. Cursed is of a much higher calibre and while you and I know how they’ve dipped since, the elephant in the room is the idea of them reforming to put out an album that’s sub-par to the point of being incredibly offensive.

    “Why criticize a nicely grilled rare steak solely because you’ve had one more than a few times?” you say. Well, wrong question. What you really should wonder is why you’d want to habitually go back to a restaurant that used to be good back in the day mind you, fast forward to present day, to eat their shit food over and over? Fancy mediocrity, have a ball.

  • Selim Baradan

    It’s really weird not to talk about the sacking of original Morgoth singer Marc Grewe in the review. In my opinion he was the most important member of the band. He was part of this reunion and was let go about 4 months ago. The new singer was recruited at the last minute and he sounds exactly like Marc Grewe. So, this is really an awkward record considering these events.
    Also in the review, it says Morgoth was never an original band. Having followed the band’s entire career back in the day, I disagree with this opinion. Morgoth was one of the most original European death metal bands in the 90s along with Tiamat and Samael. Yes, they were a traditional death metal band when they started. Still their first 2 EPs and Cursed were critically acclaimed albums. Then they started experimentation with Odium, which was a great record with industrial influence and song structures unheard of in death metal genre. Then they carried the experimentation even further with “Feel sorry for the fanatic” which was a mixed bag and it was really hard to call them a death metal band anymore. Finally the band unfortunately split up. So, I wouldn’t call them an unoriginal band by any means.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Beginning of December, I think. It is weird (all I read was “we can no longer work together” from their camp when it happened), but I felt any speculating/discussion on the matter would be best suited for the comments. You’re spot-on with “awkward” describing the whole situation, so what I tried to do here was just talk about the music itself without “tainting” it for people before hitting play, if that makes any sense.

      I didn’t call them unoriginal, I just said they weren’t the most original band out there, and that wasn’t meant as an insult or anything. Their work just never struck me as all that revolutionary when I heard it, but then again I didn’t hear it back in the day like you did. Regardless, thanks for the read and a well thought out comment man!

      • Selim Baradan

        I understand your intention of leaving the singer crisis topic to discussion. I hope I started that discussion :) Unfortunately I don’t have enough info on the dismissal of Marc Grewe but it just doesn’t feel right to see a clone of him on the vocals.

        I appreciate your positive response on my originality comment. It’s rare nowadays to see reviewers respect the opinions of readers on the internet. As a 40+ year old metalhead, I made a similar comment (should have listened to it back in the day and experienced the impact then) on the Slaughter of the Soul review and all I got was dismissal and arrogant attitude from the reviewer.
        So from now on I got mad respect for you “Diabolus in Muzaka” and will closely follow your reviews.

        • We’re all arrogant, but still pretty cuddly.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Thanks man, I appreciate that! Cheers!

  • Excentric_1307

    Having never heard them before (sorry! I’ll do better next time, I promise!) I really like the sample posted. It has the same feeling for me as Bolt Thrower, with that driving groove that only lets up so you can take a breather for contrast’s sake. More, please!