Tantalizingly labeled as being a grind-drone hybrid, Morbid Evils — a side project of Rotten Sound vocalist and guitarist Keijo Niinimaa — doesn’t play by the rules. That’s not to say that the feelings these two extreme sub-genres stir up aren’t present. The suffocating and oppressive atmospherics found both in the gargantuan monotone sound of drone and the stifling chaos of grindcore are an ever-present force here, shifting with the force of planet-sized icebergs. The name of the game is oppression and the aim of the game is to hammer the brain into a pulp. Deceases is the band’s second album, a minimalist reflection of the morbid realities faced in everyday society. Are you ready for morbid evil?
The opening song (heck, every song) opens and carries through with a constant vicious buzz. There is little in the way of fanciness and decoration here. It’s stark and difficult, for me, because I expected something more from the intriguing description supplied by the label. I wasn’t a fan at first and I’m still not completely certain of my position. Deceases is an album that needs to creep up on you, to catch you at the right moment, when you’re vulnerable and angry perhaps. It’s an album to sledgehammer into the softness of your heart. It’s an album not to enjoy but to be repulsed by. Perhaps I’m talking nonsense and giving Morbid Evils too much leeway, but as I write this I feel the need to do so because the album, and the time I’m writing this review, has stirred something in me. That’s why we venture into the extreme fringes of music, right?
Pulling myself back from this emotional chasm into ordered reality, Deceases consists of six songs and has a runtime of 40 minutes and 13 seconds. Despite the huge bass-heavy throb that runs through the album like a giant’s beating heart, there are tinges of various extreme metal genres shimmying off its surface that provide subtle variety. A careful wash of black-metal flows through opener “Case 1 – Murder,” doomier touches, akin to the vast melodic atmospherics of Ruins of Beverast, can be heard in “Case V – Death Breath,” and flavoursome electronic touches and guitar lightness flutter with melancholic lightness during “Case II – Dead Weight.” “Case IV – Tumour” is a personal favourite, moving with a certain degree of groovy swagger that’s broken down by intermittent bursts of singing single-note guitar brightness and dirge-like follow-ups. The subtlest whispers of an eerie choir alongside atmospheric black-metal chord patterns merge with hazy bellows. And always there, somewhere, the depressive surge of drone-doom riffing carries these elements forever and ever forward into the cold caress of death.
All are buried beneath a sheet of industrial heaviness. Imagine the gallop of Conan’s hooves merged with the deathly monstrousness of Evoken and the wight-infested sheen of Paysage D’Hiver and you’ve got a decent mental image of Morbid Evil’s sound here. The tempo remains the same throughout — a steady mid-pace. The drums are simple and pounding, a mace striking the softness of a babe’s crown. Vocals are a constant deep growl, reverberating and steaming above the mix with monotonous double-layered vitriol. The album’s aim is stark monotony and stark monotony is what it achieves. There are rare flashes of change: “Case II – Dead Weight” very briefly begins to rumble with quickened vitriol, but soon settles back into its morbid groove. Do I enjoy it? Not necessarily, but I can see it for what it’s worth and it does it well enough. I yearn for more spurts of grind, more vocal variety, and the complete disregarding of metal in favour of dark ambient stretches to reach the more pitiless and vulnerable corners of my mind.
My problem now comes with rating the album. Speaking as an all-seeing and all-knowing music reviewer I should be able to pluck a number and a closing comment out of thin air, however, my powers have abandoned me this evening. Deceases is a foreboding album that has needed time to sink it. It’s essentially one long track that can’t be jumped in and out of. It demands focus. When given the time its elements merge to create something of value, however, I don’t think I’ve gleaned its full potential just yet.