Morgengrau – Blood Oracle (2018) REVIEW

Never one to be typecast vocalist/guitarist Erika Morgengrau has shown strong adaptive skills in providing vocals for a handful of entirely different projects. From her start in Gothic darkwave band Autumn Tears to traditional heavy metal wailing in Ignitor, Morgengrau has shown some impressive range in now focusing on Morgengrau, an old school death/thrash metal influenced juggernaut. Having left Ignitor after two full-lengths Morgengrau would form this traditional death metal band for the sake of some great shared love for the original attack of bands like Pestilence, Morbid Angel and early Deicide. I initially noticed Morgengrau because of their cover of Sepultura‘s ‘Inner Self’ smack dab in the middle of the tracklist for their 2013 debut full-length ‘Extrinsic Pathways’.

Kicking off their partnership without a stable drum seat Morgengrau properly represented an under-served sect of old school death/thrash metal fans with their debut. Asphyx and Master influences made for a heavy, raw recording that truly suffered from mildly lackluster drumming. A ‘good but not great’ album that still called for a few extra listens is no certain crime. As a debut, ‘Extrinsic Pathways’ channeled an admirable range of influences. Five years and a couple of drummers later ‘Blood Oracle’ is upon us and most every aspect of Morgengrau‘s previous death/thrashing aggression shifts towards pure early 90’s death metal atmosphere and mid-paced bludgeoning.

More death/doom and less overt thrash metal riffs make for a darker and menacing sound on ‘Blood Oracle’. Morgengrau serves as a dark sorceress growling atop mid-paced death metal with more of a rasping tone this time around. The title track/opener immediately shows some greater development of vocal patterns that highlight the full listen. Most of the issues I had with the drumming on their first album are remedied here though the level of orthodoxy goes untouched. The style of the album is generally quite different here resembling the self-titled debut from Master crossed with the rhythmic play of the first Morta Skuld album. Some smaller nods to classic Immolation and doom/death also crop up during the slower, more chaotic sections of the album to great effect.

The slow burning tracks are the ones I got the most excited about on ‘Blood Oracle’ with “Poised at the Precipice of Doom” and the impressive closer “Evocation of the Wheel” leaving the biggest mark. This is a surprise as the best parts of ‘Extrinsic Pathways’ resembled ‘Amon: Feasting the Beast’ style. As a full listen I find a few tracks verge on ‘filler’ territory and I would dispute the placement of “Wolves of Thirteen” and toss it towards the end of the record instead. Though the terminology upsets my own sensibilities much of ‘Blood Oracle’ feels like it errs on the side of safety and simplicity in conveying heaviness; Morgengrau is more memorable for thier sound than any particular riff or chorus outside of 2-3 amazing tracks. A solid follow up and an improvement on all aspects of their debut, I’d definitely recommend ‘Blood Oracle’ to fans of mid-paced early 90’s death metal. For preview listen to “Progression” and “Poised at the Precipice of Doom” back to back for a holistic sense of the record’s stylistic range.

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Artist Morgengrau
Type Album
Released June 22, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Unspeakable Axe Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Morgengrau on Facebook
Genres
Death Metal,
Thrash Metal

To live within this death. 3.5/5.0

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