Review: Morne Asylum

Morne Asylum Profound Lore/Armageddon Records

I saw Neurosis at the tender age of 16 in a  Billings, Montana VFW. It was 1990 and they were on the road supporting The Word as Law. They represented something so primal and terrifying, the whole experience was burned into by adolescent brain. I can still see Scott Kelly’s Big Mountain Defense shirt depicting Native Americans staring out behind an American flag with the stripes made of barbed wire. The band appeared as an ominous wall of spectres in the dim light as they struck the first few chords. They blew the PA almost immediately, this occurred with unfortunate regularity on that tour, and were forced to play the majority of their set instrumentally. The tension bled into the performance. They were a maelstrom, pulling the audience deeper into their rage. I was hooked.

Souls at Zero and Through Silver in Blood would become two of my favorites from their catalog. They wed the best of bands like Amebix with crushing heaviness and apocalyptic soundscapes. The addition of potent, flowing, visual elements would further enhance the live experience. In fact, the power of the Through Silver in Blood era live set was such that my wife had a panic attack and has sworn off Neurosis ever since. What does any of this have to do with Morne? I’m coming to that.

Morne’s Asylum taps into the same primal power as those early Neurosis records. The album begins with the ominous majesty of the title track. Clocking in a 17 minutes, Milosz’s vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Scott Kells and the track neatly fuses doomy crust with sparse piano. The listener is lulled ,via an excellent interlude, before they are finished off by more furious doom. “Edge of the Sky” and “My Return” invoke the the naked rage of Through Silver in Blood’s “Purify” as waves of metallic sludge build and then spill over the listener.

References to Neurosis aside, Morne is still very much their own band. Tracks like “Nothing to Remain” and “Killing Fields” evidence the band’s artful composition. They effectively fuse their brand of sludgy crust with the darker elements of a band like Isis to create brutal, soaring compositions. The final track, “Volition”, marries sparse piano and violin with whispered female vocals and muted guitar before building to a sonic expression of rage.

Asylum was released in 2011 but remains a criminally under recognized record. Do yourself a favor and pop over to their Bandcamp site here.  One hopes 2013 sees new material from this Boston juggernaut.

– Captain of Games

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