Morta Skuld - Dying Remains review

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Band: Morta Skuld
Album: Dying Remains
Release date: February 1993

01. Lifeless
02. Without Sin
03. Devoured Fears
04. Dying Remains
05. Useless to Mankind
06. Rotting Ways
07. Withering Seclusion
08. Hatred Creation
09. Scarred
10. Consuming Existence
11. Presumed Dead

If are only a casual fan of 90's death metal then Morta Skuld would have more than likely passed you by; a band who unfortunately did not get the reward they deserved with releases such as this, Dying Remains is one of the best of the lesser known acts of death metal to come out of the US in the early days of the genre. If you want to hear more classic death metal from someone other than the usual characters, do yourself a favour and pop this one on.

Morta Skuld are very much students of the Obituary school of death metal, focusing on shifting tempos from slow and low to fast and high, and doing so with ease. While they are adherents to this sound, the band are not lazily copying the notes verbatim and add their own twists and originality to the sound to differentiate themselves.

One element that is underappreciated but adds a lot to Dying Remains is the bass; Hellman not only plays some interesting lines, but it's placed perfectly in the mix to add that low-end thud that punctuates certain ideas and parts of the songs, giving the album that extra power. It gives songs like "Withering Seclusion" a different slant on which to listen, adding to the replay value of this album.

Gregor and O'Connell's use of tremolo contrasts very well against Hellman's thudding bass, and frees the guitar players from having to balance the roles of low-end and high-end as they are free to focus on the latter (though when they combine together and focus on the low end like on "Rotting Ways" it hits a lot harder), adding a lot to tracks like "Dying Remains".

Kneevers does an admirable job behind the producer's desk; his production work gives Morta Skuld a somewhat unique sound (which for death metal is quite an achievement) and one that is catchy, heavy and clear. Focusing on the low end, he gives the band a downtuned and dirty sound that gives songs like "Useless To Mankind" an atmosphere of grim and morbid eeriness that adds to their quality.

The only issue I have with Kneevers' production job is that he appears to have made the drums sound flat and lifeless; the cymbals sound fine, but the bass drums in particular sound like a series of dull thuds, while the snare seems limp. The drums are reduced to the role of mere tinny timekeeper as opposed to being a highlight or engine to the songs. This in turn handicaps Truckenbrod as a player, as it becomes somewhat hard for him to stand out in the songs amongst everyone else unless you actively focus on him to the detriment of the listening experience. While he plays nothing particularly bad and is proficient behind the kit, it is a more a chore than a choice to listen to him.

Dave Gregor is a strong vocalist, but he is one who seems to take his cues imitating other vocalists than forging his own distinct identity, trying to combine the sounds of Chris Barnes and John Tardy to form a hybrid style; it is admirable but does make you feel like the band were followers rather than leaders. The anguished howls of songs like "Without Sin" are by no means anything less than strong and he is a capable singer, but it would be nice of him to try something to make him more unique.

While the band were never able to break out and stand out in the death metal scene, it wasn't for lack of effort; Dying Remains is a solid album that despite its flaws is a strong and powerful statement from a band that had potential.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 7

Written by omne metallum | 13.07.2020


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