Since their split with Warprayer and their debut album Untold Wait there were no illusions that the band from Boston was onto something truly great. Now, two years after the release of their sophomore full-length, Asylum, Morne strike back with their latest sonic compilation with the band’s only purpose being to drag us into the depths of sorrow and misery where not a smidge of hope can be found. Shadows is the album that Morne had promised us since they first started out. An immense record, full of heavy tracks, sorrowful melodies and desolate emotions painting the soundscape that the band calls forth with the five constructs found in the album.
The descent into the abyss starts straight away with the opening riff to the “Coming of Winter” unleashing tons of sludgy riffs before it takes, what can only be described as, a more epic turn. The album already seems quite dark and menacing passing a dystopian feeling to the listener. That is with the exclusion of the guitars. That is what works so well in this album, while Morne are set into crafting a dark and terrible ambiance for their album, aided by their cold riffology and their towering presence, they still are letting loose melodic leads (still with a mournful aura to them). For instance the ethereal melodies that Morne are able to build inside the dreamlike state of the title track shows definite signs of brilliance. The track itself is a merging between the light and the dark side of the band, starting off with subtle melodies that are soon invaded by the heavier riffs while the vocals are roaring. The effects aid the transition into the core of Morne’s music with the guitars giving a heart tearing lead about six minutes.
The ability of the band to come up with melodic leads is truly uncanny. For instance about four minutes into “A Distance,” Morne make way for their sorrowful guitar parts in an attempt to crush your very soul. When you also take into consideration the whole approach of the band to this track, kicking it off in an almost post metal manner and slowly building anticipation for what would come next, you can only remain speechless and in awe of the band’s spine tingling visions. Of similar vibe is the drenched-into-melancholy “New Dawn.” After a beautiful intro, which shows an almost compassionate side of the band, with clean guitar bits and great vocal delivery on top of the imposing rhythm section created by the drums and bass. The destructive leads and the sorrowful melodies collide head on about a couple of minutes into the track, leaving you with a bitter taste, while mesmerizing melodies reach their peak revealing the whole range of the band’s emotional spectrum.
Clearly the band also finds suitable moments to unleash all the fury that builds up in their songs. The second half of “A Distance” is a clear example of that, with Morne leaving behind their melodies and unleashing an uncompromising attack on all directions. But the sheer level of extremity that the band can reach reveals itself in all its glory in the instrumental closing track of the album, “Throes.” After about the five minutes of the ambient intro, the drums come in to set the beat, sounding huge in the process. The guitars are then introduced, first in the form of feedback before they set down all their weight, while the leads in this case are sounding more disturbing than melodic. The heavy, destructive nature of the song combined with its slow pace leaves nothing standing in its way.
Morne have really managed to find a place between doom metal, sludge and post. Shadows is a dark offering, the devastating journey through its five stages will bring you down to your lowest point and while you are lying there helpless, Morne will kick you in the gut. And the funny thing is you will thank them for that. Seasons might change, but in this case only winter remains.
9.5 / 10
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