Review Summary: Decent album that deteriorates in terms of quality from its predecessors, simplifying the sound and making it heavier.
Morgul is a moniker that will probably be new except to those that have dedicated themselves to symphonic black metal. Morgul is pretty much the solo project of the malicious mind of Jack D. Ripper, with the exception of a drummer up until 1999. This work of art is Morgul’s latest product, which dates back to April 18, 2005. Generally speaking, I would loosely classify the album as symphonic black metal, but it gets out of those boundaries quite often, touching upon death metal and even industrial metal.
Jack’s project has always changed the sound of its albums, starting with pseudo generic melodic black metal with its first two albums, the first one having a much darker atmosphere, and the second focused on a melodic and epic setting. The third, The Horror Grandeur, is where the magic really started with the band, using orchestration and synths, together with black metal, to create a scenery that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror film. Sketch of Supposed Murder, focused more on guitar melodies while adding several influences, like gothic metal and industrial metal. All this finally influenced and made possible the album in question.
All Dead Here… is probably the band’s heaviest album to date, and the causes of this are the death metal influences on the guitars and drums. The song “Shackled” has many of the guitar riffs and melodies influenced by death metal. In case you are unfamiliar with this style, the instrument plays very crunchy and repetitive notes, which are of course, very high in the sound mix. The drumming is also quite loud in most songs, which only makes it that much heavier.
Out of all of the influences in the album, probably the most deteriorating one to the sound is the death metal one. Song structures in this album are much simpler compared to the previous two albums, even song lengths are a bit shorter on this baby. Such a thing would not be too much of a hassle to deal with if the ability to create the darkest and most terrible images in the mind of the listener was not at stake. Don’t get me wrong, the orchestration and keyboards are as prominent as ever, and well heard in the mix. The violin is of course, incredible, although it is not present in all of the songs, or that often.
It seems like Morgul has taken a number of steps backward, and very few ones forward. Positives would be adding even more musical influences to the music, and keeping the quality of the keyboards. The backward steps would be simplifying the guitar riffs, and focusing more on heaviness of the record, as opposed to the horrifying atmosphere. For symphonic black metal, this change in sound is usually for the worse, and this is very relevant in the album. What motivated this change in sound? Who knows, maybe Jack just wanted to be free and express himself this way. Maybe he wanted to create music to headbang to, while still retain its dark aura.
All Dead Here… is still a very decent piece of music, and will still be enjoyed by fans of the band and the genre. However, when compared to some of the masterpieces the band has released before (Sketch of Supposed Murder and The Horror Grandeur) it is difficult to avoid noticing the discrepancy of quality. As of now, Morgul has not released an album in six years, but there is still hope that Jack returns to his older sound and continues to explore a theme that was not finished, there is still plenty of uncharted territory where the previous albums left off.