Morbific – Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm Review

Finland’s Morbific returns with their second offering of music(?) in as many years, and it’s the sonic equivalent of a message written using scabs that have been arranged on the killing floor of an abandoned slaughterhouse. Here are ten tracks of caveman death metal that fetishize the pursuit of ugliness to a borderline-absurd degree; if you really want to understand what Morbific is up to, listen to Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm on a set of quality headphones so you can appreciate all the not-nuances on display. These three fückfaces from Finland aim to stand out in a crowded hellscape by being MOAR ugly and raw than anything else out there. Can Morbific win their race to the bottom–and even if they do, is listening to Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm worth the Silkwood shower you’ll need to take afterwards?

This is rabid death metal for the unwashed masses. Pick any three song titles at random–let’s go with “Bind, Torture, Snuff,” “Meal from an Open Skull,” and “The Head Harvest”–and it will be obvious what Morbific is going for. Autopsy and other feral DM acts like Rottrevore and Funebre are the roots of this family tree. In a season when another band that’s really good at sounding like Autopsy–namely, Autopsy–just released their best album in years, Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm still manages to distinguish itself with some sneakily good songwriting and a novel approach to production. The platter isn’t likely to contend for a top spot on any year-end lists, but Morbific’s commitment to finding their own unhinged variation on a well-worn sound makes for a nasty and entertaining listen.

Seriously, though: it is hard to overstate just how fugly Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm sounds. Other bands hoeing this row make production choices in the name of atmosphere, but Morbific just wants to rawdog your earholes. The tone of Jusa Janhonen’s bass is lifted straight from Mortician’s Chainsaw Dismemberment. It’s more scuzz-dispenser than it is instrument, blowing distortion all over songs like “Suicide Sanctum” and “Baptized in the Fluids of Decay.” There’s a “bass breakdown” in the middle of “Meth Mansion Murders” that sounds like an old AM radio blasting out static as the tuning dial searches for the next station.1 It’s all way too fucking much; it’s all supposed to be way too fucking much. If you think this racket is too hideous to bear, then Morbific doesn’t want you at their necrophiliac key party in the first place.

If you can withstand the onslaught of fuzz, you’ll find some fun songs hiding in there. “Fun” is, of course, a subjective pursuit–but if you’re the type to slow down when you drive past an accident so you can cop a quick peek, you’ll find plenty to gawk at here. Guitarist Olli Väkeväinen pumps endless riffs through what sounds like A Child’s First Amplifier, peppering these thirty-eight minutes with an array of standout moments. “Meal from an Open Skull” and “Meth Mansion Murders” are frenetic highlights, while “Suicide Sanctum” and closer “Malignant Germination” showcase Morbific’s facility with a skull-cracking mid-paced stomp. Väkeväinen’s ripping lead guitar lines are well-placed and never overstay their welcome.

For everything that works here, this is ultimately just a well-executed slab of Autopsy and Mortician worship. Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm is the work of a young band that hasn’t yet escaped the long shadow of their influences. It could be that Morbific is happy to live and work inside that shadow. If that’s the case, I’ll continue to check out their new releases. but I’m likely to move on after a quick nod of appreciation. Kudos to these reprobates for finding a new-ish way to spread a familiar brand of ugliness. But if you’ve already been to a mental funeral or had yourself hacked up for barbecue, this one won’t have much to offer you besides a diverting way to pass forty minutes.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Me Saco Un Ojo Records | Memento Mori Records
Websites: morbific.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/morbific
Releases Worldwide: October 24, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. I would watch the movie adaptation of “Meth Mansion Murders” if it showed up on Shudder.
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