Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Morgirion - Infinite Retribution Upon Paradise

Morgirion's Infinite Retribution Upon Paradise slowly reveals endless layers of Black Metal influence from numerous scenes. The brunt of the material is chaotic in a distinctively American manner, but there is also an Eastern European sensibility to the pacing as well as a Swedish influence when it comes to the atmospheric elements that have been worked spectacularly into the fabric. Essentially, Morgirion take the style they impressed me with on their self titled EP and progress it maturely into a more captivating whole. It's quite a 'whole' as well. At a full one hour of nearly continuous milk-curdling Black Metal replete with wailing tormented vocals, storming drums, and syrupy atmospheres, Infinite Retribution Upon Paradise is a prime example of the opposite end of what we are seeing black metal morphing into elsewhere.

A key element for me throughout the album is Connor Dooley's keyboards which can often be found gliding behind Gerry Baldini's scathing guitar performance. While opening track "Purification Through Fire" represents the tracks composed of endless feasting and fury, the tracks which truly stand out are those in which Morgirion incorporates this straight-forward approach with that of the keys to enforce dynamic and melodic elements. "An Ode To Fallen Cowards" is a good example of this usage, as the keys break the song in half while allowing the drums to continue blasting into oblivion. Keys play a huge role on the back-half of the album with prominence in "Exiled From The Light" where they bookend the nine-minute opus and in "Pyroclastic Warfare" where they enforce the track's breakdown into more melodic territory. In "Inception Revoked," the longest track here at thirteen minutes, the keys offer the repetition to induce the desired trance-like state that is desired, while Matt Jambard explores his drum set like a seasoned jazz musician and then towards the end smoothing out the album's best moments.

Aside from keys, Connor's vocals are notable for their natural dryness across the album, tearing whatever esophageal lining he has in an extremely violent vocal performance. The dryness is tempered by heavy reverb and echo which draw out his tormented screeches into a riveting and wince-inducing performance. I haven't decided if the vocals are too much; do they harm the mix and stifle the rest of the instruments when they're present or are they just perfect, causing the skin to crawl at all the right moments? Either way, the performance is masterful and enter my textbook on how to deliver. The vocals, and their trailing effects, are spacey and cosmic gelling nicely with the keys which purvey a similar vision while the guitars and drums are upfront and aggressive; leaving a worldly mentality.

I wish there was a little more rhythmic variety but overall this is black metal for black metal's sake and for the developed black metal listener. The harshness on offer requires seasoned ears to navigate through a challenging release both in terms of content and length. The production has clarity but is quite harsh and bristling as well. As a reward for experiencing the full effects of Morigrion's effort, we are gifted with the last three minutes of "Inception Revoked" which highlight everything this album does so well. A transition based on a recorded sampling builds into a driving, melodic, and mid-paced movement with keys providing a psychedelic twinge beneath Connor's lowest-toned vocals. It's the slowest overall portion of Infinite Retribution Upon Paradise, yet it is every bit as intense and mesmerizing as the rest of this large caliber release.

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