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Morgoth - Ungod

by Matt Hensch

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Morgoth joins countless death metal bands that were once dead but now walk the earth as revenants. The least I can say about "Ungod" is that it does not suck. The idea that this might have been a bomb in the making was volleyed up a bit after Morgoth announced they had cut ties with vocalist Marc Grewe after just a few years of doing some of the reactivation essentials, like touring and more touring. A core part of a group is never easy to replace, but Karsten Jäger of Disbelief, filling Grewe's shoes, erases all doubts as soon as he vomits up the first line of "House of Blood." It helps that "Ungod" is excellent on nearly every other parameter, and never lets up its authentic exhibition of atrocities.

Foreseeing a return as natural as this is easier imagined than done. Morgoth, at least, does not waste any time getting down to the nitty-gritty right off the bat. "Ungod," right from ignition, takes a tried-and-true form of death metal harkening back to better days, days when Obituary and Death were crying out for gore. There is plenty of refinement making up for the time that has passed, however, giving "Ungod" a best-of-both-worlds appeal. The sound quality is cutting and fresh, helping to bring out the crunch in the record's mid-tempo spine and Jäger's explosive grunts, while the band charges through sharp death metal anthems that are big on riffs and heavy on violence.

The real component making "Ungod" a worthy listen is the band's chemistry. It is very clear that the deep-rooted structures and riffs à la Obituary and Death are powerful behind an energetic vocal performance. This is most prevalent during tunes like "God is Evil" or "Voice of Slumber," which wrestle between mid-paced/slowed sections and faster death metal bits. This backbone makes Morgoth a powerful beast, as the riffs and the genuine intensity are never once dropped. Few surprises linger in the effigy, but Morgoth is dependable enough on the death metal front that they don't need to change things up or think outside the coffin. Jäger's performance, again, is superb. Even on "God is Evil," the leadoff single that featured Grewe on vocals, he sounds mauling and ravenous. For a death metal vocalist, Jäger is as good as they come.

My only complaint is that "Ungod" is a bit too fatty. The forty-seven minute record has a few duds, like "Descent into Hell" or "Traitor," which serve to show the world that Morgoth knows its death metal while failing to shake the sense that stronger songs exist not too far away. Just a minor beef of mine among a very fine collection of death metal hymns from one of Germany's finest death metal squads, now back and bloodier than ever. "Ungod" is otherwise an anomaly among the low-quality returns of long-defunct groups giving the metal game another go. Despite the absence of Grewe-a replacement that would've been catastrophic for most-Morgoth is alive and on fire.

Morgoth - Ungod
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