Morlich - Tempest (EP) (2014)

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Social media is, of course, the PR of the future. Bands can reach out to fans and potential fans all over the world, with the click of a mouse, the touch of a phone or tablet, and spread whatever it is that they're doing, with little to no effort. But while it is an extremely positive tool to use, it can have negative effects on our standards. We have to temper expectations, hoping that the bands can deliver on whatever promise they've made. The new school of this, the rebirth of that, it's all just words on a screen until you hit play. But every now and then, you find someone who is as true to form as the music they make. Given an invitation to listen to the debut EP by a Scottish extreme metal band called Morlich, it was hard not to let the expectations exceed the norm. But with the album collecting double digit listens in the matter of days, it was a experience worth sorting through the sea of bands to get to. Tempest is what social media was made for.

It's no mistake that the whirlwind symphonics and blasting drum beats of Decay are preceded only by a short introduction. You're caught up suddenly in a swirling pool of darting guitar riffs, tightly programmed kicks and snares, and a vocal line that is equal parts scary and invigorating. The impact of the production is immediate, and extremely positive, as the clarity of the mix allows each instrument to cut through and jab at you.Crownless is an obvious beneficiary, as the multiple layers of guitars, synths, drums, bass and vocals would otherwise be overpowering. But they've had their edges rounded off, and found a balance between each moving part. When Corvus moves to the low growl, you may feel your bowels loosen. Add in an outro of this strength, albeit simple and you've got a track that begs to be played over and over.

The perceived up and down moments of the album are less about problems you'll find, and more about how high the ups really are. As good as the first two tracks are - and they are exceptional - the title track, Tempest, far surpasses them on every quantifiable level. The guitars are crisper, the melodies sharper, and the symphonics richer; and their combination, the recipe from which the track is built, is phenomenal. There isn't a click or pop out of place, and you'd be hard pressed to keep your head or feet stationary during the bridge. For as sonically intense and pleasing as it is, the the track that follows, ostensibly an outro to the album as a whole, is just as much so, in a completely different way. The symphonic elements have been isolated here, and allowed to speak for themselves in sweeping soundscapes. The power they emit is breathtaking.

When you've made an album just right, and hit all the right notes along the way, it ends up having a life of its own. It lives. It breathes. It grows and changes. And that is exactly what Tempest does with each and every listen. There are a full slate of things going on at any one time, and it allows you to listen to the album over and over, and continually pick out things you may have missed before, or appreciate the way two pieces fit together in certain parts. Instead of questioning where things may have gone wrong or been misplaced, you'll find yourself with a train of obvious and artistically pleasing answers. The fact is, it all just makes sense. As hard a thing as that is to say without feeling like I'm overstating the point, Morlich is responsible for an album that has no loose ends to tie up. It's broad and open ended, and now the wait for the next installment begins.


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