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Morlas Memoria - Mine of Pictures

Morlas Memoria
Mine of Pictures
by James Peterson at 26 November 2017, 10:53 AM

MORLAS MEMORIA are a very gothic and symphonic metal band (that also draw just a bit from melodic death metal) comprising of, and possibly formed by, brother/sister duo Leandra and Theo Johne, who perform clean and harsh vocals, respectively. This is one of the more saturated genres in the metal landscape, and often times it is accompanied with progressive elements in the music as well, but that’s really not the case here; none of the tracks even surpass the six-minute mark. Regardless of this, on “Mine of Pictures” the band have put a lot of quality in this record that’s worth diving into… despite what the apparently low-effort cover art may unfortunately lead you to believe.

Even though the opening “Prolog” is only 40 seconds long, I have to quickly touch on it because it is quite unlike how I’ve heard any metal record start before. At first we hear nothing but a sound effect of the wind, but that’s not the interesting thing here, obviously. Tons of albums sample wind, perhaps most notably for me the opening to “Time I” from WINTERSUN. What’s interesting is that the only other thing that comes into the mix in this opening track is operatic frontwoman Leandra Johne sings in her native German tongue, which is cool and actually sets the stage stylistically well because there are tons of operatic classical songs in German as opposed to metal which is usually in English (for better or worse the “language of rock and roll.”) There’s an interlude piece called “Uyulala” on the album that sounds absolutely gorgeous and is also sung in German. Anyways, after the opening track, the short but sweet “Phantasien” comes through with its big cutting orchestral swells, riffs and keyboard lines that may remind some of modern melodeath stylings (This in particular is also very present in other tracks like “Stormgiants,” “Goab,” and really the album in general), and nice little pizzicato string breaks. “Whatever You Want” is a more upbeat and catchy cut that definitely reminds more of bands like SERENITY (and I know I’ve compared a number of bands I’ve reviewed here to them at this point, but it’s just clearly a formula that works!)

The gothic nature of MORLAS MEMORIA's music really shines throughout the album. There’s plenty of bombast and tropes from both metal and conventional songwriting, but the entire record is littered with a very sorrowful mood throughout many songs as opposed to a more upbeat overall tone. This is very evident if you listen to the break in the middle of album highlight “Waters of Life,” which also has some of the best orchestrations on the entire record. At times these orchestrations sound so professional in their arrangement that you feel like you’re listening to a Yoko Shimomura or Alan Silvestri score. The progressions and dynamics here are truly top notch, but unfortunately this song is followed up by “The Old Man of the Wandering Mountain” which has un-captivating riffs, leads and a really annoying filter effect on the guitar tone that comes in and out.

Really, the guitar tone in general is the weak link in an otherwise great mix (along with the all too prevalent unhearable bass guitar issue.) It just sounds like not much thought was put into tweaking it to really suit the music and be as good as it could possibly be past ‘it’s metal so it has to have high gain.’ The drums and vocals, on the other hand, are all crystal clear, evidently well recorded and have great tones. The orchestrations sit well in the overall construction of the music from an audio perspective as well as the musical.

Going into the final third of the album, “(A Hero Called) Hynreck” has a great dynamic structure in how the volume intensity of the ensemble changes and elements of the music come in and out, with the placement of acoustical passages as well as sections with primarily orchestrations, weaving in and out of the more groove metal oriented metal moments. It also sports a guitar solo, but in this and other leads throughout the album it’s hard to hear a sense of refinement in skill in the guy’s playing. Not that the music warrants anything flashy, it’s just not the tightest part of the equation. Everything else going on in the performance is tight enough that it was impossible for me to notice any other issues in that regard, though. On the topic of performances, Leandra also plays flute on this album which really shines in the song “Das Sternenkloster” amidst very pretty piano composition, before the metal and vocals kick in half-way through similar to “Forget Not” by NE OBLIVISCARIS. There’s a really nice choir vocal passage towards the very end as well.

In conclusion, this is a definitely competent record in this style that I think fans of said style will enjoy heavily. The combination and great integration of the operatic vocal style, concise songwriting, expert orchestrations and range of emotional and dynamic contrast with this metal band made this a fun listen for the most part. Check it out below and see what you think!

Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Prolog
2. Phantasien
3. Whatever You Want
4. Stormgiants
5. Waters of Life
6. The Old Man of the Wandering Mountain
7. Uyulaia
8. Goab
9. (A Hero Called) Hynreck
10. Das Sternenkloster
11. The Battle
12. Mine of Pictures
Lineup:
Eric Neufeld - Guitars
Theo Johne – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Tobias Ullmann - Keyboards
Leandra Johne – Lead vocals, Flute
Sebastian Leibe - Bass
Samuel Clauß - Drums
Record Label: 7Hard Records
     


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