Every once in a great while, a band or album comes around that completely baffles you (in a good way). You find yourself wondering, “how did they DO that?” Sleepers in the Rift is one such album, and Morbus Chron is one such band.
Technically, this album came out about two months ago, but I was only turned onto Morbus Chron just days ago. The moment I had heard this mind-bending slab of pure death metal, I was floored — I just had to talk about it.
Morbus Chron are not just another one of those “new old-school bands” that have been gaining popularity lately. They’re clearly influenced by bands like Carnage, Nihilist/Entombed, Unleashed, and maybe even At the Gates, but they don’t sound like them, as many other Swedish DM bands do nowadays. Instead, they sound more like they were inspired by early extreme bands like Bathory, Motorhead, Possessed, Black Sabbath, Venom; prog rock of the 60’s and 70’s; and hardcore punk of the 80’s — the same bands that inspired the likes of Entombed, Carnage, etc.
Sleepers in the Rift is rife with complex and interesting song structures, and a tinge of psychedelic influences. The guitar work and musicianship are top-notch, and while influenced by the Sunlight studio guitar sound, not a total rip-off. The drumming is tight and competent, and the bass is audible and meaty. The vocals are probably my favorite part of the album. Robba Andersson’s vocal delivery is the most authentically “old-school” thing about the album, but also the most sincere and visceral. The lyrics are full of semi humorous-yet-serious genre staples like gore, zombies, etc., but they are done so in such a unique fashion that it really feels like this is the first time we’re hearing them. The whole album oozes that goofy, tongue-in-cheek seriousness of true, classic heavy metal music.
I realize death metal is in no way a “mainstream” or easy-to-get-into genre — many people dislike it. But this is so far removed from the modern, trendy death metal scene of today, and captures that strange innocence of the genre’s infancy that was been lost long before I, and other fans, were even listening to much music at all. It is my hope that band like Morbus Chron and albums like Sleepers in the Rift will continue to instill us death-heads with the same awe and wonder that young metal heads experienced when they first heard Entombed’s Left Hand Path or Death’s Scream Bloody Gore decades ago.
Pros: Doesn’t fall into tropes of “new old-school” bands; remains fresh and innovative; each song is different, well-written and complex; the band balances new and old perfectly; classic heavy metal melody and rocking; fantastic vocals and musicianship.
Cons: At times, the guitar sound isn’t as heavy as it could be; fans of more modern style death metal may not take to the band’s old-school approach.
For fans of: Entombed/Nihilist, Death Breath, Dismember/Carnage, Autopsy, Repulsion, Death, Asphyx, Maim, Bastard Preist, Black Breath, Grave, Grave Miasma, Disma, Funebrarum, early At the Gates, Bathory, Hellhammer, et al.
Morbus Chron’s Sleepers in the Rift was released on August 29, 2011, on Pulverised Records. You can check out more of Morbus Chron here.