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Morgal - Nightmare Lord

Nightmare Lord
by Matt Bozenda at 29 January 2022, 2:09 PM

This critic has said before that genre-blending is a dangerous activity. It takes the balance of a gymnast, the delicacy of a surgeon, the skill of a chef, and any number of other tortured metaphors to put differing sounds together and make a hit out of it. Of course, there are many bands that make it all look so easy, but it is ultimately up to the listening public to determine the success of such efforts, and sometimes we get just plain lucky.

From the southern Finland town of Mikkeli comes the technically sturdy sounds of MORGAL, whose 2014 formation has finally brought them to their debut full-length album, “Nightmare Lord”, an Old School Black Metal tale which dabbles in Melodic and pulls a string or two from 80’s Hard/Heavy Rock. What is captured here covers all the Black Metal bases; blast beats, screaming vocals, sudden and jarring tempo changes, just to name some of the hallmarks.

And yet, despite the chaotic makeup, this isn’t just a bunch of random noises converging at once to abuse the eardrums. It seems they put a bit of thought into the production process, and have avoided the worst of the genre’s stereotypical pratfalls, like unengaging riffs or vocals so filthy they’ve gone sloppy. And neither does the listener get bogged down in the “raw” aspects of the album, despite its clear presence. For a change, we’ve been given a new Black Metal album that isn’t going straight to the arthouse or trying too hard to be liked.

An excellent cross-section of the album is right in the middle at track four, “Flaming Mouth Of Baphomet”. The album’s longest piece manages to showcase each of the strongest positive elements going for it. The intro and the outro are wonderful throwbacks to the classic style of 80’s metal songwriting, the Melodic bridge is so well put together you can almost visualize the sheet music, and the old school feeling throughout gives the song a comforting familiarity.

And that’s mostly what you get on the rest of “Nightmare Lord”, a fast-paced nostalgic tribute to the old Metal Gods. The nerd numbers all add up as well, with seven tracks at a total of a bit under thirty-six minutes, that’s near enough to perfect for a metal album featuring no filler tracks. The listener will likely have no problem playing this one on full repeat.

That said, while interested parties will certainly gravitate, some may find that old school feeling a bit out of session. The eminent accessibility may also turn off the particularly snobby. But while it’s true that living in the past doesn’t do much for the future, at least MORGAL are doing their part to help the present. If “Nightmare Lord” is anything to go by, one could really see this band making a big impact, and hopefully within a narrower timeframe.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

1. Golden Sun Of Satan
2. Death Vortex
3. Extermination / Death Penetration
4. Flaming Mouth Of Baphomet
5. Gateways Of Flesh & Blood
6. Nightmare Lord
7. Mortifer
SS Exiler - drums
Crusher - guitars
Lord Warmoon - vocals, bass
Record Label: Hells Headbangers Records


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