Rating:
8.5
Morbus Chron - Sweven
24 February 2014


01. Berceuse
02. Chains
03. Towards A Dark Sky
04. Aurora In The Offing
05. It Stretches In The Hollow
06. Ripening Life
07. The Perennial Link
08. Solace
09. Beyond Life's Sealed Abode
10. Terminus


Within the past couple of years, the typically rigid subgenre of death metal has seen a good few bands challenge some of its more cliché formulas and ideas, to the point of becoming quite noteworthy needles that separate from the rest of the haystack. Portal have done it, Tribulation have done it, and this year, Morbus Chron are looking to get in on the action, doing one hell of a job at it in the process.

Much like Tribulation with The Formulas Of Death last year, Morbus Chron's sophomore album is a lot more maturely composed than their more straightforward debut, and the fact that the ante has been upped is noticeable almost immediately. With Sweven, the band are a lot more comfortable with exploring more avenues of atmosphere, technicality, and overall forward-thinking songwriting. The more relaxed, darkly melodic passages on tracks like "Towards A Dark Sky," "It Stretches In The Hollow," and "The Perennial Link" provide quite a satisfying complement to the band's more aggressive personality, and they tend to be interspersed with more complex, progressive undercurrents as well. This can tend to be a pretty hit or miss technique within death metal, but thankfully Morbus Chron make it work, in a way that never feels forced or inauthentic, but simply like another aspect of their musical personality.

Having said that, these Swedes certainly haven't forgotten their roots, and fans of Sleepers In The Rift will be more than happy with Sweven's maintenance of some nasty death metal fury, despite all the new elements that have crept their way in. "Chains" and "Aurora In The Offing" especially contain some pretty banging moments, further built up by the vocals of Robert Andersson, continuing to deliver that classic, old school style we all know and love. Edvin Aftonfalk as well must be applauded for his impressive guitar leads, that are definitely technically complex, but always within relatively brief periods, leaving the listener impressed, yet not bored with too much widdly diddly shred nonsense.

What makes Sweven such a great album is the fact that Morbus Chron can stick to a core, pre-established sound while also trying out new things, and being damn good at it at that. There's neck-breaking death metal, but also a good deal of prog, mellow melodies, and fantastic manipulation of tempo as well. Though it can sometimes feel like the sense of balance makes it difficult to enjoy from one particular direction, the album's equalizing of elements makes it quite clear that Morbus Chron refuse to be crammed into the expectations of their style, and they're raising their bar pretty high for their music to come.

Begin your slaughter.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 08.05.2014 by
Apothecary
"I don't know how y'all see it, but when it comes to the children, Wu Tang is for the children, we teach the children"
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deadone - 08.05.2014 at 02:58  
Hmmmm...


Well written and enjoyable review but I didn't find much "neck breaking death metal." I found it was the lack of DM that ultimately puts me off it even though I like the sound. It's too much atmosphere and not enough brutality.

I've heard their previous EP and that was far more satisfying as it was basically pure DM.


Still this should be an excellent addition to anyone who likes this kind of stuff.
Apothecary - 08.05.2014 at 04:32  
Written by deadone on 08.05.2014 at 02:58

Well written and enjoyable review but I didn't find much "neck breaking death metal."

I'm not saying it forms the majority of the album, as a matter of fact most of the songwriting is around a more medium-to-slow tempo, but it's definitely still there, primarily on the tracks I mentioned.
deadone - 08.05.2014 at 04:51  
Fair enough, but my point was there's not enough DM on the album.
Daniell - 08.05.2014 at 09:52  
Written by deadone on 08.05.2014 at 04:51

Fair enough, but my point was there's not enough DM on the album.


And you're implying that not enough of a genre means decrease in quality?
This album is great regardless of what genre it is.
deadone - 08.05.2014 at 09:56  
Written by Daniell on 08.05.2014 at 09:52


And you're implying that not enough of a genre means decrease in quality?


Not at all. I merely didn't like it because it didn't have enough of the DM bits I did like (which their earlier bits do). I don't mind atmospherics and interludes but prefer the music to be DM first and the atmospheric stuff second and in lesser quantities.
Troy Killjoy - 08.05.2014 at 09:56  
Written by Daniell on 08.05.2014 at 09:52
This album is great regardless of what genre it is.

Not if what you're looking for is that all-encompassing death metal.
Daniell - 08.05.2014 at 13:20  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 08.05.2014 at 09:56

Not if what you're looking for is that all-encompassing death metal.


Fair enough, but I think that approaching an album with certain expectations is the first step towards disappointment.
LeKiwi - 08.05.2014 at 16:38  
Written by Daniell on 08.05.2014 at 13:20

Fair enough, but I think that approaching an album with certain expectations is the first step towards disappointment.

I don't think that he meant he had any preconceived notions of what the album should sound like, rather that it didn't suit his preferences. I could be wrong.

Edit: but I wholeheartedly agree with what you said
LascaillesShroud - 08.05.2014 at 16:38  
Great album, I thoroughly enjoyed this album through and through.
Apothecary - 08.05.2014 at 18:01  
Written by Daniell on 08.05.2014 at 13:20

I think that approaching an album with certain expectations is the first step towards disappointment.

At least someone gets it. I used to be like that a lot myself, but as I got more into my own art I realized how much of a gradual, evolving process it all really is. So just listen to the album as it is, if you judge too much by the standards previously established on other ones, you're only gonna piss yourself off. I'd say we're all guilty of it to some extent though, especially if it's one of your fanboy bands
virvum - 08.05.2014 at 18:38  
While it is good music it makes me worried a bit of a new trend going on in death metal. Apparently you have to do anything but death metal to be considered fresh and original. Everything else is called a cheap Cannibal Corpse rip off riff salad.

I think this new wave of death metal is good in it's own right but it's also something completely different and should be a new genre of it's own. DM might mean different things for different people but DM without a solid adrenaline rush is missing the point IMO. Otherwise I might have approached this album with an open mind if it wasn't presented as the new death metal of the future.
!J.O.O.E.! - 08.05.2014 at 18:43  
Written by virvum on 08.05.2014 at 18:38

While it is good music it makes me worried a bit of a new trend going on in death metal. Apparently you have to do anything but death metal to be considered fresh and original. Everything else is called a cheap Cannibal Corpse rip off riff salad.

I think this new wave of death metal is good in it's own right but it's also something completely different and should be a new genre of it's own. DM might mean different things for different people but DM without a solid adrenaline rush is missing the point IMO. Otherwise I might have approached this album with an open mind if it wasn't presented as the new death metal of the future.

Honestly this sounds more like an issue with labelling and the listener's own preconceptions. I don't see how you can blame a band or movement because you, or anyone, approached it wrong. That's not their fault, it's the fault of the person that believed in marketing nonsense like "the new death metal of the future." It is what it is and should be judged as a piece of music. Its quality shouldn't be subject to elements outside of that, and it doesn't need to be shunted into another genre to be given the credit (or otherwise) it's due.
Apothecary - 08.05.2014 at 18:44  
Written by virvum on 08.05.2014 at 18:38

While it is good music it makes me worried a bit of a new trend going on in death metal. Apparently you have to do anything but death metal to be considered fresh and original. Everything else is called a cheap Cannibal Corpse rip off riff salad. I think this new wave of death metal is good in it's own right but it's also something completely different and should be a new genre of it's own. DM might mean different things for different people but DM without a solid adrenaline rush is missing the point IMO. Otherwise I might have approached this album with an open mind if it wasn't presented as the new death metal of the future.

I see where you're coming from, as that can definitely pave the way for a bunch of pretentious hipster bullshit, but I'll have to disagree with you that this should be considered an entirely different genre. At least in the case of Morbus Chron, the core is still a death/thrash sound, simply augmented with some more proggy and melodic elements. You could call this prog death (which is still kind of stretching it), but even that's a sub-subgenre in itself, it takes a lot more than that to create an entirely different genre of music. It's not just in the musical delivery, but in the lyrical themes and vocal delivery as well.... which in this situation are pretty classic DM to me.
virvum - 08.05.2014 at 20:15  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 08.05.2014 at 18:43

Honestly this sounds more like an issue with labelling and the listener's own preconceptions. I don't see how you can blame a band or movement because you, or anyone, approached it wrong. That's not their fault, it's the fault of the person that believed in marketing nonsense like "the new death metal of the future." It is what it is and should be judged as a piece of music. Its quality shouldn't be subject to elements outside of that, and it doesn't need to be shunted into another genre to be given the credit (or otherwise) it's due.


I agree, I was talking about the trend itself and not the band and also I might have an issue with labeling. It was a general complaint rather than bashing Morbus Chron. As far as "the new death metal of the future" thing goes, it was completely made up by me... Maybe I should have written an article about the subject instead of ranting in an album review comment section. Because I didn't intend to discredit their work. It is good music and I appreciate innovation and exploration. Just pointing out that it might not be the "conventional" DM fan's cup of tea. I get the idea that you can explore such lyrical themes without resorting to play 300bpm all the time. Again, Morbus Chron did a great album and who knows it might grow on me. I just don't want to see the DM scene saturated by bands trying to emulate stuff like this and others while the rest is dismissed as bland and dumb.
!J.O.O.E.! - 08.05.2014 at 20:26  
Written by virvum on 08.05.2014 at 20:15

I agree, I was talking about the trend itself and not the band and also I might have an issue with labeling. It was a general complaint rather than bashing Morbus Chron. As far as "the new death metal of the future" thing goes, it was completely made up by me... Maybe I should have written an article about the subject instead of ranting in an album review comment section. Because I didn't intend to discredit their work. It is good music and I appreciate innovation and exploration. Just pointing out that it might not be the "conventional" DM fan's cup of tea. I get the idea that you can explore such lyrical themes without resorting to play 300bpm all the time. Again, Morbus Chron did a great album and who knows it might grow on me. I just don't want to see the DM scene saturated by bands trying to emulate stuff like this and others while the rest is dismissed as bland and dumb.

Ha, fair enough. Yeah hype and heresay really can be a person's worst enemy with regards to music. There's a lot of psychology involved. I freely admit I'm drawn to albums with nice covert art and it's possible my perception of the music will be partially defined by it.

Trends come and go really, but I find there tends to be a pretty consistent influx of the more standard stuff. Death metal feels like quite a nice, varied tapestry these days. You have the proggy sorts like this and Tribulation, the revivalist / cavernous OSDM types like Portal, Dead Congregation, Grave Miasma, etc. you also had that sort of post-death metal, Neurosis-influenced mini-movement with stuff like Ulcerate, Flourishing, Mitochondrion etc., more tech-death you could every possibly want, and still a few original / early bands still pumping stuff out. I find it difficult to believe a more pure kind of death metal will ever be abandoned though.
Erik M. - 09.05.2014 at 02:17  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 08.05.2014 at 20:26

I freely admit I'm drawn to albums with nice covert art and it's possible my perception of the music will be partially defined by it.


That's weird. I mean, I think good cover art is nice to have, but in my case it most certainly doesn't influence the music itself in any way. I mean, are you actually looking at the cover art the whole time while you're listening to the music or what?
!J.O.O.E.! - 09.05.2014 at 02:25  
Written by Erik M. on 09.05.2014 at 02:17

That's weird. I mean, I think good cover art is nice to have, but in my case it most certainly doesn't influence the music itself in any way. I mean, are you actually looking at the cover art the whole time while you're listening to the music or what?

No but I see music in, often abstract, visual images. That's how my brain interprets, at least party, the sounds that are going into my head. I suspect many people are the same whether or not they realise it. It's a pretty natural conclusion then that a visual cue to the music will have some bearing.
Erik M. - 09.05.2014 at 02:28  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 09.05.2014 at 02:25

No but I see music in, often abstract, visual images. That's how my brain interprets, at least party, the sounds that are going into my head. I suspect many people are the same whether or not they realise it. It's a pretty natural conclusion then that a visual cue to the music will have some bearing.


Then I must not realize it, because that's not really the case for me. But at least I understand what you mean. It's just that an album cover doesn't have any, or barely any, effect on how much I like the music. Maybe unconsciously it has effect though...
!J.O.O.E.! - 09.05.2014 at 02:31  
Written by Erik M. on 09.05.2014 at 02:28

Then I must not realize it, because that's not really the case for me. But at least I understand what you mean. It's just that an album cover doesn't have any, or barely any, effect on how much I like the music. Maybe unconsciously it has effect though...

I can't imagine how anyone could listen to music and not get an image inside their head of some sort as a result of it.
Erik M. - 09.05.2014 at 02:37  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 09.05.2014 at 02:31

I can't imagine how anyone could listen to music and not get an image inside their head when they do so.


I get that too, but not really the way you described it (abstract, visual images). I do "see" things, but can't really describe it. Apologies for being extremely vague right now.
!J.O.O.E.! - 09.05.2014 at 02:38  
Written by Erik M. on 09.05.2014 at 02:37

I get that too, but not really the way you described it (abstract, visual images). I do "see" things, but can't really describe it.

Probably why I called it "abstract" =P
Erik M. - 09.05.2014 at 02:41  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 09.05.2014 at 02:38

Probably why I called it "abstract" =P


Okay, you got me there, hahaha.
Alex Fenger - 09.05.2014 at 02:48  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 09.05.2014 at 02:25

No but I see music in, often abstract, visual images. That's how my brain interprets, at least party, the sounds that are going into my head. I suspect many people are the same whether or not they realise it. It's a pretty natural conclusion then that a visual cue to the music will have some bearing.

This is exactly what happens to me when I listen to music. The atmosphere the music creates along with lyrical themes (if I know them) can really paint a picture in my mind, and the symbol of a good cover for me, is if it is similar (or if I think it represents the atmosphere created).
!J.O.O.E.! - 09.05.2014 at 02:50  
Written by Alex Fenger on 09.05.2014 at 02:48

This is exactly what happens to me when I listen to music. The atmosphere the music creates along with lyrical themes (if I know them) can really paint a picture in my mind, and the symbol of a good cover for me, is if it is similar (or if I think it represents the atmosphere created).

Indeed. Sometimes it's just a plain colour, other times it can be an entire landscape. In some instances it's somewhat beyond description. Depends on the music really.
Alex Fenger - 09.05.2014 at 02:53  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 09.05.2014 at 02:50

Indeed. Sometimes it's just a plain colour, other times it can be an entire landscape. In some instances it's somewhat beyond description. Depends on the music really.

For me it's mostly landscapes, but I most nearly always associate certain music with certain locations I've visited or with certain weather. I spent a month in the Pyrenees mountains during winter, and I listened to tons of atmospheric black metal, because I usually associate that type of music with cold, snow covered landscapes. I think when you're in a certain location, an appropriate musical accompaniment can enhance the experience a ton.
!J.O.O.E.! - 09.05.2014 at 02:58  
Written by Alex Fenger on 09.05.2014 at 02:53

For me it's mostly landscapes, but I most nearly always associate certain music with certain locations I've visited or with certain weather. I spent a month in the Pyrenees mountains during winter, and I listened to tons of atmospheric black metal, because I usually associate that type of music with cold, snow covered landscapes. I think when you're in a certain location, an appropriate musical accompaniment can enhance the experience a ton.

Definitely. When I first moved to Brighton I had a few albums that I listened to a lot at the time when I was travelling back and forth; Barren Earth and Castevet's debut albums and Venetian Snares' 'My So-Called Life'. All of them give me very specific still images of being on train to Brighton, or on the bus to university. Also for some reason Agoraphobic Nosebleed's 'Agorapocalypse' album gives me an extremely vivid image of a park in Canterbury. I assume I was walking through it one time when I was especially appreciating the album (probably one of the reasons I've given it a 10).
Alex Fenger - 09.05.2014 at 03:02  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 09.05.2014 at 02:58

Definitely. When I first moved to Brighton I had a few albums that I listened to a lot at the time when I was travelling back and forth; Barren Earth and Castevet's debut albums and Venetian Snares' 'My So-Called Life'. All of them give me very specific still images of being on train to Brighton, or on the bus to university. Also for some reason Agoraphobic Nosebleed's 'Agorapocalypse' album gives me an extremely vivid image of a park in Canterbury. I assume I was walking through it one time when I was especially appreciating the album (probably one of the reasons I've given it a 10).

The albums that leave lasting impressions on us are probably the most important, so I'd say your 10 is perfectly warranted. But now we've gotten way too off topic.
I agree nearly entirely with Che's review, and that this is pretty much a mature development in Morbus Chron's sound and stylistic approach, without straying from the aspects that made the debut great. Very fine album indeed (though I'd give it a solid 8)
deadone - 09.05.2014 at 07:16  
Written by Daniell on 08.05.2014 at 13:20

Written by Troy Killjoy on 08.05.2014 at 09:56

Not if what you're looking for is that all-encompassing death metal.


Fair enough, but I think that approaching an album with certain expectations is the first step towards disappointment.


My only expectation was Death Metal as that's what the band was billed as on the Century Media website ( http://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=562 ):

Quote:
Century Media Records is proud to announce the signing of MORBUS CHRON from Sweden. Often described as a perfect mix between Autopsy, Carnage, Obituary and Grotesque, MORBUS CHRON clearly stands as one of the most talented and promising band among all the new traditional death metal acts which have been popping around since more than 3 years now.

MORBUS CHRON comments: "Always expect the unexpected. Morbus Chron are thrilled to join the ranks of Century Media Records. We know that with greater assistance and sturdier tools, the more clearly we can focus our attention solely on the music. So it is with big smiles that we ink this deal tonight. To keep the momentum going, we're entering Gutterview Studios in March/April to record our first 10" EP. Expect to have us around for a while."

Jerry Maréchal, A&R at Century Media Europe comments: "Coming from Sweden without sounding like the 9265465th clone of Left Hand Path Entombed is not a sinecure, to say the least. What Morbus Chron has been achieving for more than 3 years and their first demo tape is far more impressive as the band manages to merge varied and classic influences ranging from US death metal to Swedish and Euro death metal with their own very personal conceptions be it musically or aesthetically. The result is an intense and fascinating traditional death metal act. Period."

As previously mentioned, MORBUS CHRON will soon record new tracks for a 10" vinyl to be released at the occasion of their first live appearance in Germany at the Hell's Pleasure festival July 20th and 21st, 2012 in Pößneck, East Germany along with other Century Media Metal of Death youngsters Sonne Adam and Necrowretch! Later this year, the band will start writing the follow up to their critically acclaimed first album entitled Sleepers in the rift which was rewarded with a fabulous 9 out 10 points review in German Rock Hard magazine.


Nothing about wierd atmospherics really.


And I think it's probably a great album for those who like this kind of music but it didn't float my boat.
ZrinkoMaloseja - 09.05.2014 at 12:28  
Finally someone reviews this lovely album.
Apothecary - 09.05.2014 at 15:27  
Written by Erik M. on 09.05.2014 at 02:17

I mean, are you actually looking at the cover art the whole time while you're listening to the music or what?

I know I certainly do. It synthesizes the piece of art as a whole in my opinion, and I don't particularly care for bands that don't have a good visual aesthetic (whether it's in their artwork, how they dress onstage, or both) to match the feel of their music. Maybe it's partly because I'm a musician myself, but when I listen to any new album, I love staring spaced out at its artwork with the music in my ears, thinking to myself "ok, what were these guys trying to accomplish here, and how does the art match their music and lyrical themes?" In this case of Sweven, the cover seems to be depicting some sort of astral projection, and the back of the cover has a clock on it, so I'm guessing there are a lot of soul/time/space themes going on here.
Mr. Doctor - 09.05.2014 at 15:53  
I see artwork the same way I see lyrics. They are bonus to the music. It only adds. Never subtracts. If they are great it adds to the music.
But if they are meh... It doesn't affect the music to me.
Daggon - 11.05.2014 at 03:31  
Great review, so far, this is my favorite album of the year!
Cannot wait to listen to the next albums of Morbus Chron and Tribulation.
blackmamba - 13.05.2014 at 06:15  
It's good, but it's not death metal
The Galactican - 13.08.2014 at 07:51  
This is one of the better reviews I've read on MS recently. Really great job on all fronts.

This album definitely has a unique sound coupled with some highly sophisticated songwriting. It's high on my list of favorites for the year.

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