Dawn of Ouroboros – The Art of Morphology Review

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine—no thanks to you creeps. Typically I’m able to find solace from a world on fire by fleeing to the aegis of the Promo Pit and the commiseration of my scribe brethren, but this place is a prison, and these people aren’t my friends. There’s been too much disruption of normalcy, too many people making too many problems and not enough love to go around for everyone in Ye Olde Promo Sump, so I done busted out and gone rogue, yo. What do you do when you get out of jail? I wanted to have some fun, and twas fun that I found, indeed. I found Dawn of Ouroboros out walking after midnight through the Bandcamp grounds, and while I may have ultimately been hauled back to my angry metal prison in a most silverback-ed and unceremonious fashion, you can bet your sorry ass1 that I managed to smuggle the Californians’ debut back with me. You’re welcome.

Brevity dictates The Art of Morphology be categorized as ‘progressive blackened death metal,’ but that tells us nothing and fuck that, anyway. True to its own name, The Art of Morphology is an ever-shifting thing, employing the stylistic devices of several subgenres yet never adopting the mantle of any one in particular. Be it the unexpected lurch into thunderous chuggy rumblings2 that follows the otherwise clean and dreamy intro of “Pinnacle Induced Vertigo,” the transition from the melodic yet deathy outro of “Sorrow’s Eclipse” into the epic progressive black metal of closer “The Valiant Abscond” or simply the intensely dichotomous beauty/beast nature of the vocals, it’s clear that variety is the spice ov Dawn of Ouroboros’ life. Thankfully these sonic seasonings are applied with the steady hand one might expect of a more, well, seasoned act; The Art of Morphology bounces around often enough as to elude immediate succinct categorization, but never at the cost of the music, and almost always to the benefit of the music. Almost.

I say ‘almost’ all cliff-hanging and ominously because I don’t care about your feelings; Dawn of Ouroboros make no missteps in their frequent directional changes, at least not to my velvety ears. The success of this is owed largely to an ancient concept, in which it was hypothesized that a diminished presence of a given force could, in fact, become a greater presence at times: sometimes less is more, and Dawn of Ouroboros know this well. Things shift frequently, yes, but never in jarringly drastic or else blatantly gimmicky ways. When “Lunar Cathexis” drops its shimmering, folky pretext to unveil a blackened death furnace at its core, it’s as natural as the frequent lapses from flighty prog into pummeling death metal which transpire wthin “Sorrow’s Eclipse,” and every other such example of genrestlessness found on The Art of Morphology. Such moments largely adhere to the established scales and pacings of the preceding material, allowing the sudden changes to feel organic and comfortable. What’s more, these moments don’t overstay their welcome and lapse into gimmickdom; Dawn of Ouroboros don’t strive for the multifaceted cacophony of Igorrr or Corpo-Mente,3 they just don’t mind painting with more than one color or medium.

Despite being thoroughly impressed with this debut effort, I’d be remiss not to address some minor criticisms that my total enjoyment of The Art of Morphology is nonetheless unable to negate. First of all, Chelsea Murphy’s clean singing is, somewhat unfortunately, the closest thing to a weak spot that this album has. Her performance is hardly incompetent or even subpar, it’s more just kinda there, arbitrary and executed sufficiently yet without the immediate passion – let alone the flawless delivery – of her harsh vocals, which are trvly monstrous to the point of defying Muppety description. This, of course, segues nicely to my second complaint: Chelsea Murphy has raised the bar for female harsh vocals so high that I feel bad for her contemporaries, and I don’t particularly appreciate being tricked into empathy. Lastly, Morphology being but a debut, I can’t dive mindlessly into an ocean of Ouroboric offerings, and that just pisses me off.

As far as I’m concerned, The Art of Morphology has ultimately taught me that crime pays. Stick with the herd and you get Enzo, shitty nü-metal and a front row seat to 4.0ldeneye‘s happy metal guy time. Break free from your restraints and you will seize the likes ov Dawn of Ouroboros, Malist, RÛR; break free from your restraints, and you will seize greatness. The Art of Morphology is easily the most promising debut full-length that I’ve heard since Unsettling Whispers, and it was worth every HR sanctioned lashing just to catch a glimpse of this fledgling beast out in the glorious, glorious wild. There’s always room for growth, particularly among Murphy’s clean vocals, but Dawn of Ouroboros have impressed the Hell right outta me and I absolutely cannot wait to hear whatever they’ve got in store for us down the road.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Websites: Dawnofouroboros.bandcamp.com | Facebook.com/dawnofouroboros
Releases Worldwide: March 30th, 2020

Show 3 footnotes

  1. And thank my sore ass.
  2. ‘Chumblings,’ if we’re being technical.
  3. Which is not shots fired, yo. I simply mean to convey that Dawn of Ouroborous are versatile as fvck, just not mind-breakingly so.
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