Review Summary: One of the most underrated bands/albums to arise from the New York death metal scene.
Arising from Middletown, New York, Morpheus Descends released their debut full length, Ritual Of Infinity
, in 1993. In what was now a scene awash with talent, it seemed the only way to ensure survival was to release an album that was above par without everything else surfacing around you. Morpheus Descends not only created one of the best albums of the period on the scene, but an album that would influence the likes of fellow New Yorkers Suffocation, Incantation and Cannibal Corpse; an album that would establish the band as immediate heavyweights in the death metal world and one that would continue to inspire acts for many years to come.
While being categorized along with other bands in the North Eastern movement, Morpheus Descends knew what it would take to survive and thus incorporated this into their sound. A sound that contains all the early 90s death metal elements; guttural vocals, a solid foundation of pounding blast beats and for the most part sludgy mid-tempo grooves that can instantly become a chaotic frenzy. However, all coalesced with the band’s unique feel, they shaped something enormously aggressive and malevolent sounding. Morpheus Descends’ riffs cut sharp and pound the listener’s ears with plenty of bang your head moments and catchy sludge encrusted riffs. While it may be similar in sound at times to other releases of its era, Ritual Of Infinity
simply outweighs its competitors. Production on the record is surprisingly excellent. It cradles the album’s sound, allowing each track to add something new to the fold, making every song sound fresh and perfectly in place no matter the tempo it is performed at.
From the first unceremonious bars of stomping opener “The Way Of All Flesh” it is apparent we are in for a malicious affair. Down tuned guitars, heavy gutturals and a competent drumming performance immediately sets the bar for the rest of the album. The first of several well executed solos is also on offer. However, the tempo of Ritual Of Infinity
is quite varied when compared to other releases at the time, which tended to bombard the listener from beginning to end. Many songs such as the title track and “Immortal Coil” contain a changing riff texture consisting of quick, aggressive sections followed by a ground shaking slower cadence that gives the songs great depth. Sludgy moments of this nature and the escellent song structures are made even more impressive by the clearly audible bass, adding an extra layer of texture to the heavy sound. “Trifomed Limbs” speeds along its path at a frantic pace. Rarely letting up, it is one of the faster numbers on show and the guitars combine well to create a surprising level of subtle melody within the iniquitous riffing. Vocals are pretty standard death metal, although, this is by no means a negative statement; Jeff Reimer’s voice sounds dominating and powerful, truly making Morpheus Descends a malicious constituent in the New York death metal scene.
Due to the collapse of their label, Morpheus Descends released only two albums to date and consequently split up (only to reunite years later with the last known line up). However, Ritual Of Infinity
is a much overlooked timeless classic which remains as fiendish now as it did all those years ago and is a powerful statement for the New York death metal style. An album that remained hidden in the background amidst releases from bands that would go on to enjoy much longer careers than Morpheus Descends and establish themselves as heavyweights in the death metal world. They may never release another album, but their legacy will live on for generations to come, continuing to inspire and exhilarate. Never curse the dead, because the dead can’t die twice.