Morwinyon – Pristine Review

When I was a wee metal babe, it was atmoblack that eased me into the pool of blackened filth. I used to take midnight walks around my college town of Portales, New Mexico, listening to personal classics like Imperium Dekadenz’s Procella Vadens, Altar of PlaguesMammal, Negură Bunget’s OM, and Falls of RaurosThe Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood, letting each unique interpretation of the scathing and meditative wash over me like water. Portales is a visually unspectacular high plains town, its cracked and uneven roads a blank canvas, and I filled it with the painted landscapes of atmospheric black metal as I wandered alone. Coming upon Morwinyon, then, was layered with the sting of nostalgia.

It’s truly been a black metal year. What better genre than the ear-raping one to reflect the ever-changing Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 2020?1 Italian duo Morwinyon2 formed in 2019 as a side project of post-black group Falaise, offering three full tracks and an ambient outro for an atmosphere worthy of its debut’s namesake – Pristine. Utilizing a synth-heavy ambient black metal template of Golden Ashes or Midnight Odyssey, there’s little new to be found. However, it revels in its saccharine melodic qualities, liberally serving serene soundscapes for the blackened escapist, even if it might only offer cavities and headaches to the more discerning listener.

Pristine is dominated by ambient and symphonic textures that forgo black metal menace in favor of a sanguine crystalline quality that uplifts the style into a blackgaze reminiscent of An Autumn for Crippled Children or Deafheaven. If you want pretty sounds, boy howdy, does Morwinyon have a shit-ton for you. In spite of blackened blastbeats, distorted riffs, and distant screeches, Pristine feels like an ambient album, using its gentle textures to guide its movements. Tracks like “The Intangible Void” and “Wounded Land” are all-out assaults of beauty, recalling Golden Ashes in their interpretation of synth overload. “Sea of Stars” is the clear highlight, as it reflects its artwork with patient songwriting, relying on well executed placid moments of plucking and acoustic strumming that morph into climactic passages of dual tremolo and synth melodies. It feels appropriately like the ebb and flow of the sea. “Wounded Land” features an appropriately timed climactic riff that works well with its chaotic blastbeats and desperate atmosphere. Closer “Ethereal Night” is a patient exploration of nostalgic and ethereal ambiance, recalling There Will Be Fireworks’ yearning emo style or Eluvium’s post-rock explorations.

Much of Morwinyon’s reception will depend on listener preference, as there is little “kvlt” about Pristine. With little darkness amid the swirling positivity, it feels far too sanguine for repeated listens: like a diet of only smarties and saltwater taffy. While patient songwriting in “Sea of Stars” is a clear selling point that tones down the saccharine sweetness in favor of gentle dynamics, the majority of the album feels like a sugar high. Bands like Midnight Odyssey and Alcest feature uplifting melodies with enough ugly to add contrast, but the majority of Pristine feels like an Explosions in the Sky or Mono album superimposed atop a stereotypical black metal template. While the synths and textures are undeniably beautiful, their sovereignty compromises the integrity of the bottom end, pushing its blackened qualities below the surface. Further, tracks like “The Intangible Void” and “Wounded Land” suffer from awkward transitions from the ethereal to the blasting, and the latter’s screeching central melody gets old after so many iterations.

If you’re hankering for atmoblack, this will satisfy. If you’re looking for a life-changing piece of music, this ain’t it. Morwinyon has created an album worthy of its namesake but little else, providing a slightly overlong forty-minute foray of atmospheric black metal cotton candy, neglecting the meat and potatoes. Pristine feels a bit like a more precise and professional Lascar, honing in on ethereal melodies but doing so in a way that sticks – sometimes in a catchy melody, sometimes in a sugar headache. Morwinyon’s reception will depend on your taste, as there is virtually nothing kvlt and little blackened about Pristine. To those who are looking for an atmoblack excursion into the mountains so you can see the stars at night, this is your over-sweetened cup o’ tea. But if you’re looking for a well-rounded listening experience, this cozy chamomile is more like Morwinyawn.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 191 kbps mp3
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I’ve lost track.
  2. Named after a star in J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories.
« »