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Morne - "Asylum" (CD)

Morne - "Asylum" CD cover image

"Asylum" track listing:

1. Asylum (17:11)
2. Edge Of The Sky (5:09)
3. I Will See You (10:40)
4. Nothing To Remain (9:03)
5. Killing Fields (6:03)
6. My Return (8:35)
7. Volition (9:26)

Reviewed by on July 17, 2011

"The title track is a factor in making 'Asylum' less than easy to jump into, but like skinny-dipping in the middle of the night, 'Asylum' becomes more inviting as time passes."

The moody sludge metal Morne blares out on their second record, “Asylum,” has an eerie similarity to mid ‘90s Neurosis. However, “Asylum” is not some cut-and-paste copycat job done by the band. In fact, "Asylum" is a launching pad to a sonic realm of suffocating riffs and spacey keyboards. The band favors jaunting compositions with ties to not only sludge, but also progressive and doom. A lopsided title track almost puts the breaks on “Asylum” before it starts to pick up; however, the band is able to get back into a groove and hold steady.

17 minutes of flat-footed antics is what the title track accomplishes. The song is majestic and has its moments of bliss, like multiple uses of a piano-led breakdown. Those make the overbearing length less of a chore, though the content itself is drawn on a slow musical evolution. It takes a while for anything to happen, and some listeners will tune out before that occurs.

The six other songs are not as stretched-out as the title track. They do have their moments of robust instrumental passages, but crisp lead guitar work makes these moments worth the expenditure. “Nothing To Remain” and “I Will See You” are the best instances of this. Morne does a proper build-up on the former, and the latter introduces clean guitar in with the usual spat of muddy melodies.

Morne’s “Untold Wait” album featured the multi-instrumentalist Kris Force of Amber Asylum fame. She returns on the wonderful “Volition,” which also has a guest vocal spot by Jarboe. The two work as a tangent for almost two-thirds of the track, only having a piano to back themselves up with. It’s not the type of track the band would ever play live, but it’s a finish that suits “Asylum.” Of course, any track that includes two talented musicians like Force and Jarboe gets a thumbs-up.

Mentioning Morne in the same sentence as Neurosis will get attention put on them. While it’s a fitting description, there’s a lot more to Morne than Scott Kelly-ish screams and a wild experimental streak, though “Asylum” does have both. This album is not just sludge metal, but a joining of influences to create one large sound scape. The title track is a factor in making “Asylum” less than easy to jump into, but like skinny-dipping in the middle of the night, “Asylum” becomes more inviting as time passes.

Highs: Atmospheric sludge metal that isn't just Neurosis 2.0, takes multiple listens to absorb, fantastic guest spots by Kris Force and Jarboe on "Volition"

Lows: Title track is a laborious affair, not for those that like their music to be easy to digest

Bottom line: A fitting sophomore record for one of the best up-and-coming sludge metal bands out today.

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)