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MorphiuM – The Fall

MorphiuM
The Fall
by Santiago Puyol at 02 May 2021, 4:40 PM

Coming from Girona, Catalan Metalcore band MORPHIUM has released their fourth length record, and second English only record so far. "The Fall" is the follow-up to 2016’s "The Blackout". Through 12-tracks, and clocking a little over 49 minutes, MORPHIUM delivers a mix of Metalcore elements with a Gothic aesthetic and even some Experimental and Electronica influences.

Opener and single "Dance of Flies" throws the listener right into action with its Gothic synth backdrop and intense, Metalcorish feel. This two elements come together on the strong, upbeat chorus of the track. In between, the band nails down some nasty and bass-driven verses. Alex Bace’s half-spoken tone takes some time to get used to and I’m not entirely sure it fits comfortably with the instrumentation, at least not as good as his downright sinister growls and powerful cleans. It does feel a bit underwhelming for an opener even if it is a clear single and it makes great use of synths and electronics to add some ambience and a melodramatic flair.

"The Truth" follows, anchored on a playful main riff. Its beautiful, melodic verses still carry some bite and angst. The band continues making great use of Gothic synth embellishments, this time quite prominent on the chorus of the track. The bass-heavy "Parasite" adds little new aside from its memorable chorus, and it just feel like it is retreading water from the previous two tracks. Some melodic ideas even seem reused or simply too close to previous ideas. It does have an intense breakdown and quite dissonant solo making up for that, though.

"Everybody Is Dead In This House" sounds very late-90s inspired and leans entirely on the Gothic elements of the MORPHIUM’s sound. There seems to be a bit of NINE INCH NAILS inspiration on the songwriting. The synth work is quite intricately layered and it is a highlight of the track, also underlined by yet another effective chorus. These guys really know how to write a chorus. And what a nasty breakdown this song has!

Shaking things up a little is the OPETH-lite "Burn My Skin". Switching to a 6/8 time signature helps with some pacing issues (things were starting to get quite stagnant after four more straightforward tracks) and adds an enigmatic feel to this pseudo-ballad. The vocal harmonies are quite beautiful and considering how melodic most of the song is, its heavier, shrieking section is quite powerful indeed.

"Insorcism" feels like another "change of pace" track that shifts between thrashy, fast-paced verses and poppy, soaring choruses. Meanwhile, "Blacksoul" has a tribal and even folky vibe at times, a quite ominous song also based on a 6/8 time signature. Bace’s intonation on the chorus emphasizes the strong beats of the time signature, producing an interesting feel of rushing through the song. Quite adrenalinic.

Returning to the formula of the first three tracks, "My Apocalypse" feels quite generic and radio-ready. It’s not a bad song at all, the songwriting is quite effective, but it certainly feels a bit disappointing after three tracks that stirred things up a lil bit. It also feels a tad overlong, and its best section ends up being a too brief atmospheric piano-led interlude.

"Something Dead Inside" brings back more NIN influences on the songwriting. It has a tight, almost danceable rhythm on the chorus, getting stuck on your head quite easily. A track that builds towards an epic finale and delivers, although it could have done with one less chorus repetition for sure.

The album closes on a high note, reserving its most experimental and different instincts for last. "Past" is a Trip-Hop, piano-led interlude with some noisy bits and apparently found footage samples. It works in outstanding contrast to "Tired", the most brutal track on the album. Tired is deeply dissonant and aggressive even if it still has a catchy but sinister chorus. The vocal style is a mix of growling and rapping and some Post-Grunge influences bleed into the song.

The title-track ends the record in an unusual manner with random dripping noises, a distorted monologue and heavy ambience. Together with "Past", it is the most interesting thing on the record, even if it clearly is not made for casual listening. And even though it goes well over three minutes in length, it feels like an appropriate finale after the tour de force that is "Tired".

"The Fall" is an album that filled me with mixed emotions. There are a lot of really interesting ideas here that feel either underdeveloped –"Past" for instance had a ton of potential to being more than an interlude– or underexplored –the last two tracks or the tribalesque feel of "Blacksoul" come to mind–. I also found myself conflicted by the broken nature of the record. On one hand, it seems to be a more straightforward, commercial fare (the singles make it quite obvious here) and on another hand, it is quite experimental, harsh and intricate. It feels like the band was at a crossroads without really knowing which way to turn.

The singles are just as great as the rest of the record, don’t get me wrong. I have no qualms with poppier stuff or more radio-ready stuff, I like my poppy songs, even outside of Metal. My issue here is both of pacing –there is too many similar sounding tracks at the start– and maybe self-limitation? The more experimental tracks here, even the ones in the middle section of the album that remain on the less crazy side but still show many cool ideas, seem to hint at a potential the band does not fully explore due to dedicating half the run-time to single-worthy tracks.

"Everybody Is Dead In This House" is a perfect example that these two sides of the coin could have come together and make a stronger album. Another tracklist order could have helped too, especially considering the non-obvious single tracks are just as strong –even more, a lot of the time– as the more radio-ready songs. Front-loading the album was not necessary.

Still, "The Fall" is a solid album with lots to like and love. It shows MORPHIUM has many strengths to make use of. Let’s hope for an even better job next time around, they surely have the skills to do it!

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Dance Of Flies
2. The Truth
3. Parasite
4. Everybody Is Dead In This House
5. Burn My Skin
6. Insorcism
7. Blacksoul
8. My Apocalypse
9. Something Dead Inside
10. Past
11. Tired
12. The Fall
Lineup:
Sergi Rivera – Bass
Sebas Limongi – Drums
Alex Bace – Vocals
Lamb James – Guitars
Javi Delgado – Guitars
Record Label: Art Gates Records
     


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