MORBID YELL, Death Desecration (2004, demo)
Hard to gather exactly what’s happening amidst all the black and white noise, but it looks to this friar like the skull of a man who got lost hiking in a jungle and became ensnared in all manner of flora. The harder he struggled, the tighter the vines, branches and stems pulled, eventually suffocating the guy, whose face was eaten off by a band of rabid wild boars. That’s great news for the boars and Big Dumb Skulls! Crappy for the guy who wandered too far out into the wilderness, but we have it on good faith he was a deadbeat dad that deserved it.
Word on the street is that in the Spanish city of A Coruna, there existed several morbid-sounding metal bands who took similar names at the very same time. Morbid Commotion and Morbid Conniption, both now long-defunct, left the dudes in this then-unnamed band seriously frustrated. What to call their own brand of morbid metal? “Commotion” and “conniption” were both taken, and Texas band Morbid Scream had long owned that name, so it was decided, rather reluctantly, to just call it Morbid Yell and get on with business. (The recent reactivation of Chile’s Death Yell offers exciting possibilities for a seriously yelly tour package.) This is Morbid Yell’s first demo. The recording gives the music a chilling, distant quality, like it’s being communicated from several feet underground, all of it drenched in reverb while cymbals clang mercilessly in their quest to give headaches to the lot of you. This is fairly standard black/death/thrash — primitive, anguished and ugly, played by two Spanish brutes who probably think Watain are the wimpiest band in existence and that Inquisition have sold out. It’s not great, but not entirely worthless either. One thing’s for sure: this tape would have definitely landed them a deal with Wild Rags if that label was still active.
— Friar Wagner
SOL ASUNDER, Horribly Human (2007, self-released)
Taking a page from the Dave McKean book (at best) and trying to cop the vibe of those early My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost album covers by melding death and nature to make some sort of poetic statement or some shit, this thing is pretty lame. A totally low-rent version of the McKean and Travis Smith sort of deal. I see something that sort of looks like butterfly wings amongst the black smudges, and they went all-out with the pale green flora there.
If you told me this band was from the US and showed me the album cover and then asked me to guess what kind of music they play, I would have said “Swedish-style melodic death metal.” And that’s kind of what they do, but they have a much heavier approach than your typical band in this vein. Saying that they’re in the In Flames school of SMDM would be like saying Skeletonwitch play Testament-esque thrash. Because, yes, they do, but it’s way, way, way heavier and way more modern, to the point that the root influence is smothered. That’s what’s happening here — it’s almost like Sol Asunder are ushering in a new age of melodic death metal where the influence of Iron Maiden is nil, bands like Maiden and Helloween being considered quaint by these kids who were shitting their Pampers when Whoracle was released. It’s nice that Sol Asunder remember to put the “death” in “melodic death metal” (musically and vocally), and there is definite musical ability here, but they’re not doing enough to stand apart from the minions of melodic death and modern death bands, all of who continue to render each other redundant with their interchangeability and lack of unique traits. These guys were storming along quite nicely as an independent live and recording unit between 2003 and 2009, but seem to have fallen off the map a little bit these last few years. You hardly noticed, right?
— Friar Wagner