It’s hard for me to dislike something like this. Morbid Majesties contains 35 minutes of ugly, old-school death metal, and it resolutely slays.
One of the many things I like about this album is that it doesn’t limit itself to just one primary influence. Yes, old-school death metal is definitely the main sub-genre, but within this we can find elements of the Finnish, American, and Swedish styles, as well as some more contemporary influences that just add something fresh to the band’s largely old-school assault. I can even hear a bit of thrash here and there in some of the screaming guitars – think very early Slayer, for example. There’s also a subtle black metal influence that covers everything in corruption and foul darkness; probably not enough to really earn the band a blackened death metal epithet, but enough to add yet another layer to their impressive delivery.
This all means that the songs are largely fast and aggressive, yet not without ripping groove or macabre atmosphere where necessary. Thick riffs, meaty guitars, and punishing distortion combine to produce songs that are surprisingly catchy and memorable, considering how brutal they are. This is testament to the songwriting skills of the band, of course.
The songs are tight and compact, but still have enough looseness to have a spontaneous, non-calculated feel to them. Melody, when it is used, is purposeful and specific, enhancing the music in exactly the right ways. I really like the use of the bass guitar on the album too. The album ends with the almost 10-minute Bones of a Giant, which really shows off what Sadistik Forest are capable of, and sits atop the album like a crowning achievement.
The vocals are deep and barbaric, with deathgrowls and ragged screams lashing out from the music like clubs and knives to assault the listener. The singer, (ex-Hooded Menace), has the type of voice that sounds sick and diseased, but rather than this be a detriment to his performance it somehow lends it power and strength.
The result of all of the above is an extremely satisfying, well-rounded, and moreish album, one that’s easy to digest, but still leaves you wanting to come back for more. Compellingly brutal, but with a depth of nuance and texture that might surprise you, Morbid Majesties is a first-rate death metal release, one that I can’t recommend highly enough.
The always wonderful Transcending Obscurity Records have had a great year for death metal so far, with releases from this band, Depravity, Down Among the Dead Men, and De Profundis. All of them are ridiculously strong, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.