Morbus Deus – Flesh And Vengance

Holy shit, melodic death metal that doesn’t suck horribly! Is such a thing even possible? Yes, apparently it is. Morbus Deus, a four-piece out of Colorado, actually manages to make some decent movement with their ‘Flesh And Vengance’ EP. It’s interesting, layered, and most importantly, not super, super gay like the vast majority of melodic death bands. This is probably due to the band avoiding some of the most trite and insipid Gothenburgisms, allowing the music to be melodic death metal that is still recognizably death metal.

There’s a lot of different influences here, but I pick up The Chasm, Cryptopsy, Vehemence, and numerous others here, although Morbus Deus isn’t as epic as the first, as brutal as the second, or as catchy as the last. However, they still stand up pretty well on their own. The lead guitar, such a crucial component for melodic death metal, isn’t overtly saccharine or cloying, much to the band’s credit. The leads are more like traditional death metal, though less chaotically rhythmic, and while they persist throughout the songs, they never become overbearing. This is especially good, because the rhythm guitar isn’t just slamming the open E: the riffs here remind me a bit of Infernaeon’s mid-tone tremolo with a pit of ‘Covenant’-era Morbid Angel’s bubbling low end. Pretty cool stuff all around.

In true ‘progressive’ fashion, there are clean guitar interludes, but they’re more Dissection than Opeth, meaning that they’re restrained in length and not entirely unnecessary to the songs. Speaking of Infernaeon again, this EP reminds me quite a bit of that band’s demo: in possession of a sort of understated grandiosity derived from listening to Nocturnus albums more than Bal-Sagoth, and creating a sense of drama without cheese. Vocals are a lot like that found in Vehemence with the occasional double-tracked screech/growl interplay that everyone loves these days; luckily, it’s not overused here. Drumming is propulsive yet restrained in technicality. In fact, one of the things that sets Morbud Deus apart from most bands these days is that they have a goddamned sense of restraint. They’re not putting every novel idea they have into every song, and balance out just enough repetition of old riffs with introduction of new ideas to remain exciting without overwhelming themselves in complexity. You hear that, people? We don’t need a fucking kazoo solo to know that you mean business!

Production’s clean but not completely crystalline, and is a pleasing listen. The only part the band really fucks up on are the instrumental performances. The music itself is designed well, but there’s a number of points on the record where things go clearly wrong. For example, one of the leads a bit past midway on ‘Euphoric Decay’ takes me right back to ‘Freezing Moon’ on ‘Live In Leipzig’ with its dozens of horrendously missed notes. The culprit here is only one, but dear god is it a long, brutal, obvious one accentuated all the more with its melodramatic bend. The biggest problem is probably the drumming: there’s a number of noticable missed beats, and the performance, while quite fast, technical, and clearly skilled, could use a bit more work when it comes to overall consistency. Fortunately, I don’t care about issues like these, but I know there’s a number of people that will find such things distracting.

Despite these quibbles, ‘Flesh And Vengance’ is a really good debut for Morbus Deus. Hinting at a bit of evolution past the normal melodic death mold and composed of inventive and talented performers, I’m hoping that we’ll see more from this band down the road.

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~ by noktorn on May 3, 2007.

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