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Morta Skuld - "Through The Eyes Of Death: The Early Demos" (CD)

Morta Skuld - "Through The Eyes Of Death: The Early Demos" CD cover image

"Through The Eyes Of Death: The Early Demos" track listing:

1. Intro
2. Sacrificial Rite
3. Gory Departure
4. Preacher of Lies
5. Senseless Killing
6. Through the Eyes of Death
7. Feast from Within
8. Prolong the Agony
9. ...Of Evil
10. Eternal Suffering
11. Metal Church

Reviewed by on November 2, 2011

"While far from perfect, it is easy to transpose yourself back in time and see the possibilities if these recordings had broken the band into success. These remastered demos allow you to conjure those thoughts in your mind."

That period in the late eighties and early nineties was a special time in our metal history, when a large underground scene started that second wave of thrash that the forefathers had already firmly entrenched. Bands circulated their music through demos and fate dictated which would be picked up by independent labels and which would not. This takes us to Morta Skuld, a Wisconsin quartet that had quite a following via its two demos, "Prolong the Agony" and "Gory Departure." Now remastered, these demos, being re-released as "Through The Eyes Of Death," are once again seeing the light of day for a new generation of thrashers.

Upon listening to this time-capsule album of two demos, you are transposed back to that evil epoch of death thrash that channels the early nineties. The production is raw, but it is easily evident that Morta Skuld had a style that made bands such as Slayer select them as an opening act. After a backwards masking satanic intro, "Sacrificial Rite" reminds me of a less polished version of Infernal Majesty, with its continuous flux of time changes. While the vocals wouldn't be looked at as groundbreaking nowadays, the singer had a truly evil set of pipes. His sepulchral growls give songs such as "...Of Evil" a truly demonic feel when combined with the dreariness of the beat. This track delivers in that it doesn't vacillate between one minute of shred riffing and slower segments. It keeps the same steady cadence and achieves its desired effect of lethalness.

Morta Skuld shares that same trait that other death metal bands such as Mortician integrated back in the day - horror snippets inserted into songs. "Preacher of Lies" is overdubbed with these televangelist outtakes among faster guitar flourishes and a dense chorus of chants. The vocals at times get buried in songs like "Prolong the Agony," but you have to remind yourself that this was only a rudimentary demo form. Morta Skuld never intended this to be lumped together on one release, so no unifying theme is expected.

For every stomper of a track like "Feast from Within" - an exercise in cool percussion and layered screams - there is a pointless small intro track, a barely there acoustic segment or a filler song like the bland "Eternal Suffering." But at the end comes the piece de resistance by way of a cover - their version of "Metal Church." Morta Skuld pretty much nail this one and make it their own from the first note. It only deviates from form towards the end with the guitar opting for a thrashing crescendo. The thing with doing a Metal Church song is that it is hard to supplant David Wayne, especially with death growls.

It is interesting that these two Morta Skuld demos ended up being released retrospectively, and its nice window into a time warp. "Through the Eyes of Death" was not meant to be revolutionary or ground breaking, but to pay a bit of homage to the past. While far from perfect, it is easy to transpose yourself back in time and see the possibilities if these recordings had broken the band into success. These remastered demos allow you to conjure those thoughts in your mind.

Highs: Decent early death metal from the beginnings of the genre

Lows: Raw sound and rudimentary songwriting to be expected of demos

Bottom line: "Through The Eyes Of Death" is a nice time capsule back into our death thrash history

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)