Review Summary: Worthwhile for fans, but still lacking the charisma of Morgoth's earlier work.
Eighteen years out of the studio, with Feel Sorry For The Fanatic’s
critical failure no doubt lingering about their collective memories, it’s quite easy to forgive Morgoth for treading familiar waters on their quietly anticipated comeback album Ungod
. Simply put, Morgoth have done a musical U-turn and gone back to their roots, but not without bringing their formula of old into the 21st century. Ungod
feels both old-school and contemporary, instrumentally stripped-down and baring a lot of similarities to bands like Obituary, Asphyx and Grave. Steadily shifting between contagious grooves, mid-paced tremolo lines and the occasional melodic passage, no one is going to argue that Morgoth are doing anything even remotely inventive. However, the band manages to keep you engaged more often than not, even if the album is lacking in terms of spontaneity.
The modern element, unsurprisingly, is a consequence of more advanced – some would say “sterile” – recording and engineering techniques, forgoing the sonorous, bass-heavy sound of their earlier material in favour of something clearer and more balanced, but altogether less charismatic. Given the simplicity of the music, the album would have benefitted from a more primeval production job without sacrificing the audibility of notes and chords, but one can be thankful that Ungod
is still, sonically speaking, more listenable than the average death metal album in 2015. Obviously, the absence of their original frontman has been met with scepticism, but new recruit Karsten Jäger does a commendable job in his attempt to recreate the vocal assault that was Marc Grewe’s trademark. Though lacking the range of his predecessor, Karsten still nails the heaving delivery and throaty timbre that arguably characterised Morgoth’s music better than any other attribute.
By virtue of adhering to what seems to be a fairly strict set of guidelines, Morgoth have produced an album that is without discernible fault, but simultaneously without that certain flair which separates a merely good album from a great one. Lest the reader be a Morgoth fan, there are definitely albums that would make for more fulfilling use of their time than Ungod
, but that isn’t to say it's not an enjoyable experience nonetheless.