MORPHINIST, Believer (Transcendent Bringer of Light) (2013, demo)

The skull:
Father, mother and son alike had no idea what the fuck happened. They walked into Applebee’s for their regular Monday night dinner treat, and, as usual, dad asked for a placemat (and crayons) so the kid wouldn’t get bored waiting for the food to arrive. Then this creepy goth kid comes over and slaps this down on the table. The crayons would not write on its weird parchment-like surface, and the maze little Dylan was supposed to navigate was one of dark impossibility. Confounded and frustrated, he didn’t so much cry as scream a nightmarish, possessed howl…the futility of the maze and the skull beckoning inside it proved way too much for this seven-year-old who hadn’t yet gotten over his fear of Barney the Dinosaur. It’s too bad they’d never go to an Applebee’s again — everyone in the family really liked the apps, especially the grilled chicken wonton tacos.

The music:
From the demo title, both the main and the parenthetical part, you might think this is Christian metal of some kind. But then Morphinist released another demo in 2013 called Disbeliever (Descent Into Endless Darkness), so I guess they’re playing on both sides of the philosophical stream. And it’s not they, but he: Morphinist is a one-man show outta Hamburg – and the dude has been in 10 other bands I swear on a stack of skulls you’ve never heard of before. So, what about the music itself? For one-man black metal, the sound is reasonably full and the music is delivered with above-average ability. When the guitars start getting cosmic, chiming out blurry meteor showers on the higher frets, it’s entrancing. But the hypnosis doesn’t last, and ultimately these two long songs (both 14+ minutes) become so excruciatingly boring that it leads to a kind of impatient aggravation. The main problems isn’t that that the parts are bad (lots of them are legitimately good, no doubt) but it has an empty feeling. Maybe that’s what he’s going for, but really, this is instrumental metal that fails where so much other instrumental metal fails: it is glaringly instrumental. A good instrumental metal band should never let you feel like you’re missing something (vocals)… their music should capture the interest wholly and totally so that you don’t even realize a singer is missing. Canvas Solaris was really good at that. Morphinist, however, is not…yet, man, there are some killer passages in first song “Sleep for the Sleepless, Vanquish Your Cage of Flesh,” which reminds of Morbus Chron’s Sweven both musically and in the images its title conjures. There are some fine parts in the second song too (another long title), but you just wish for something else to fill in the gaps here…squishy Moog synth lines…Arcturus-ish guitar leads…or vocals. Later Morphinist (like, the three albums he released in 2014) features some vocals, so maybe I’ll check that out someday.
— Friar Wagner


KHROPHUS, Presages (2009, Fonomídia)

The skull:
Grimy and no doubt freshly disinterred, this is a proper grave skull. Dark background, deep shadows, not a tooth in sight: you know you’re in for some death metal. I mean, it presages you listening to some death metal. The skull’s all, “I foresee you listening to some death metal in the near future,” and you’re like, “Yeah, yeah, Nostradamus,” so he says, “Consider it presaged,” and you think, “This fucking guy…”

The music:
Like Cannibal Corpse minus (most of) the stupidity, Khrophus play meat and potatoes modern death metal without any fuss. Featuring lots of squealies, lots of minor third trills, and all the arbitrary riff changes you can stomach, Khrophus are nevertheless a fairly restrained example of the form, and that (relative) tastefulness is probably holding them back in the scene. Or not, I don’t know. Maybe all the kids these days love Khrophus. Maybe “Khrophus, Khrophus, Khrophus” is all you hear coming out of the Brazilian equivalent of Hot Topic. I can say at least that I’d rather listen to this than Krisiun, but I absolutely don’t ever want to listen to Krisiun. So: Khrophus. Better than two bands I can’t stand. Enjoy?
— Friar Johnsen