Monday, 25 June 2012

MORGOTH - Cursed (1991)

01  Cursed    
02  Body Count    
03  End To Temptation    
04  Unreal Imagination    
05  Isolated    
06  Sold Baptism    
07  Suffer Life    
08  Opportunity Is Gore    
09  Darkness

'Cursed' is the first full-length release by the German death metal band Morgoth. It was released on April 24th 1991 via Century Media Records and produced by Dirk Draeger. The band had already released a couple of critically acclaimed EPs in 'Resurrection Absurd' (1989) and 'The Eternal Fall' (1990) and 'Cursed' became a much anticipated release for fans of the band. A lineup change had taken place since the release of 'The Eternal Fall' with lead vocalist Marc Grewe giving up the bass duties. The role of bassist was handled by Sebastian Swart. 'Cursed' went on to become fairly succesful, which was helped in part by promotional videos for the songs "Isolated" and "Sold Baptism".

Who knows what success Morgoth may have achieved had they expanded on the promise that they displayed on this album. 'Cursed' mixes the all out aggression of their first two EP's with some slowed down doom metal influences, so this album may not be to everyones taste. Two of the tracks even clock in at over six and seven minutes respectively. The album begins with a keyboard/orchestral intro which is rather pointless and is also strangely the title track. The other low point is the last track, a cover of "Darkness" by German electronic band Warning which is just a spoken word, guitar/keyboard infused mess. Aside from these misjudged indulgences the album is astonishingly heavy. Tempo changes are frequent and the variety of slower tempos throughout can occur in the strangest of places so it can take quite some time to unravel this album. There are some striking guitar leads in places that are imbued with a sense melody which confirms that the band are not lacking in musical ability. It's just that sometimes the mixture of ferocious death metal and snails pace doom make it a somewhat uneven listening experience. It seems churlish to criticise them for varying their music but at times these two elements do not sit comfortably together in the song structures.

Of course, the one thing that marries these two fundamentals are the searing vocals of Marc Grewe. He could be described as the the closest we, here in Europe, have had to having our own John Tardy. He delivers a teriffic performance on 'Cursed' and can be heard nowadays in a death metal supergroup of sorts; Insidious Disease (as well as Morgoth) so it's great to see that he's still in the game. His vocals here contribute to making what could have been an average death/doom album into something a bit more worthwhile. The production on this re-issue is top notch and is most ceratinly a step up from my old tattered cassete from `91. Also included on this re-issue are six live video tracks from a gig in Frankfurt 1991. The sound quality and visuals are very ropey but such was the technology of the day. All in all, 'Cursed' is far from a perfect album, but musically it captures the band at their finest and is delivered in a fashion that while not wholly unique, is at least individual and expertly executed.

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