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Morbus Chron - "Sleepers In The Rift" (CD)

Morbus Chron - "Sleepers In The Rift" CD cover image

"Sleepers In The Rift" track listing:

1. Through The Gaping Gate/Coughing In A Coffin (3:51)
2. Creepy Creeping Creep (3:54)
3. Hymns To A Stiff (3:16)
4. Red Hook Horror (3:32)
5. The Hallucinating Dead (3:33)
6. Ways Of Torture (3:05)
7. Dead Body Pile Necrophile (2:52)
8. Lidless Coffin (4:31)
9. Deformation Of The Dark Matter (6:12)

Reviewed by on August 29, 2011

"Morbus Chron has an old-school mentality to their metal, and while it’s not something that will bring back the glory days, the group knows how to bow to their heroes without photocopying their guide to success."

Before death metal veered off into sub-genres involving progressive babbling and technical noodling, the genre was known to be raw and extremely gory. Who can forget the cover art to early Cannibal Corpse albums or Chuck Schuldiner screaming about bloody gore back in 1987? Death metal was built upon the fabric of two concepts: blood and evil. Modern bands have gotten away from these visions for more relevant or topical subjects. Apparently, nobody wants to hear about zombies rising from the grave or people being mutilated anymore. However, for the type of person with a framed photo of the “Tomb Of The Mutilated” cover in their bedroom, listening to Morbus Chron’s debut “Sleepers In The Rift” is the easiest way to release some unsavory thoughts.

Morbus Chron already has an advantage coming into this album, coming from the land of Sweden. The death metal from that country has been discussed in excess, so there won’t be tacky ramblings about the connection between the genre and Sweden. Morbus Chron is in good company, and comes out sounding like contenders. This is death metal untouched by modern tools, the type of album that could have fit in 20 years ago.

The band makes friends with melody, though not in the tuneful, finger-snapping way. In fact, a few fingers being snapped may be appropriate for the unpolished sound of “Sleepers In The Rift.” The album has a garage-band feel, but with much better musicianship. It’s sounds like the band is jamming out for the world to hear, not worrying about wowing the audience or jamming a million notes into 10 seconds. “Ways Of Torture” and “Red Hook Horror” slam down a load of stomach-churning riffs that will have heads flying at live shows.

The hollow production reinforces the bellowing atmospheric touches throughout “Sleepers In The Rift.” “Creepy Creeping Creep” has an abrupt shift into a bass-ridden, ambient piece that would stand out more if not overtaken by the noisy shredding immediately following it. “The Hallucinating Dead” has more going for it in the atmosphere department, as the three-and-a-half minutes is spent in instrumental territory; only brief vocals break up the soaring guitar harmonies.

The gleefully-offensive lyrics deserve their own paragraph. “Dead Body Pile Necrophile,” a personal favorite, has vocalist Robba screaming lines like “Removing maggots from my stick” and “Dead body love/fits like a glove.” If it was 1990, this may be shocking, but it’s actually tame compared to a Waking The Cadaver tune. Morbus Chron has an advantage on modern bands like that because the shock lyrics come across as slightly goofy and over-the-top, instead of stone-faced serious and delusional.

There are few downsides to 35 minutes of horrifying death metal, and “Sleepers In The Rift” continues to relay that perception. Morbus Chron has an old-school mentality to their metal, and while it’s not something that will bring back the glory days, the group knows how to bow to their heroes without photocopying their guide to success. “Sleepers In The Rift” is the album for people who see the song title “Dead Body Pile Necrophile” and laugh out loud or notice an unhealthy interest in the meaning of the song.

Highs: Old-school mentality to death metal, band has melody without lessening the intensity, great atmospheric touches on some of the longer songs near the end

Lows: Gory lyrics may offend a few listeners, doesn't do much to revolutionize the genre

Bottom line: With its gory lyrics and throwback to early death metal, "Sleepers In The Rift" is more suited for 1991 than 2011.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)