Morgoth – Resurrection Absurd/The Eternal Fall (1989/1990)
Morgoth’s first two EPs are under-appreciated bits of early death metal; were I more given writing these reviews in a marketing mode I might refer to them as “killer”. I believe the fact that their full length works do not live up to the potential displayed here is what broke their career and left them halfway obscure. Either way, this isn’t particularly groundbreaking stylistically, taking after the aesthetics and techniques used on Death’s Scream Bloody Gore. On the other hand, the writing is more ambitious, which addresses one of my long time complaints about Death while still allowing me to scratch the same aesthetic itch.
Anyways, Morgoth’s first two EPs are basically cut from the same cloth, with relatively minor production and composition differences. As far as I know (primarily based on the tracklist of the ‘Pits of Utumno’ demo), the songs were all written around the same time and definitely sound like it. For the most part, they revolve around one series of repeated riffs (a refrain), with frequent interjections to other series of riffs with occasional tempo changes. Those interested in music theory could write the structures out as “A-B-A-C-A-D” or so forth. This isn’t particularly complex, but it’s still beyond what Chuck Schuldiner and friends were attempting. One of the strengths of this era of Morgoth is that this isn’t a hard and fast rule, substantially increasing the flexibility of the songwriting. I tend to prefer the songs on the first half (Resurrection Absurd) of this album to the second half, but since they’re written similarly, most of this comes down to aesthetics. The first EP in this ‘compilation’ has a more vibrant production than its successor – bassier, with more body, but the difference is subtle; some might like the more trebley character of the guitarwork on The Eternal Fall. That part of this compilation also has clearer drumming, although the first half is no slouch in that regard.
In the end, this is still very much a product of its time – mid-late ’80s death metal before the release of Morbid Angel’s influential debut (which popularized techniques that also made the jump to the ‘black metal’ movement). Resurrection Absurd and The Eternal Fall are written and performed in a chunkier, more rhythm-oriented fashion than much of what would follow. It doesn’t completely fit into any one ‘subgenre’ – there’s some speed/thrash flavored passages, lower tempo grooves, even a few slow atmospheric sections; but I find the musical variety assists the final product. I suppose the main lesson to pull away from this is that avoiding formulaic songwriting, while not without its difficulties, is a good way to improve your final product if you’re a musician.
Highlights: “The Travel”, “Selected Killing”, “Pits of Utumno”