Morbus Chron – “It Stretches In The Hollow” (Stereogum Premiere)
Sweden’s Morbus Chron released their debut album, Sleepers In The Rift, in 2011 — the same year that gave us Disma’s Towards The Megalith, Sonne Adam’s Transformation, and Necros Christos’ Doom Of The Occult. Those four bands/albums were the cream of that year’s ridiculously fertile Old-School Death Metal (OSDM) revival crop, which seemingly sought to erase two decades of musical/technological progress and reboot death metal’s evolutionary process starting sometime in late 1991 (which was, admittedly, the exact moment at which the genre reached its artistic peak). Sleepers In The Rift was an outstanding album built of well-worn components; it convincingly recreated a fleeting, bygone, perfect moment, and managed to forge an identity of its own in the process. But with its follow-up, the forthcoming Sweven, Morbus Chron have altogether shed any and all OSDM tags — and perhaps any and all tags, period. If Sleepers In The Rift was part of a cultural reboot, Sweven suggests an entirely alternate history, one that might have emerged had death metal followed a different path than the one it did in the reality we know: a darker, weirder, more artful, less opportunistic path. Like Grave Miasma’s outstanding 2013 release, Odori Sepulcrorum, Sweven feels hauntingly ancient yet utterly unfamiliar. There are tones and textures here that date back to the mid-’80s, but they are employed in bold, often bizarre compositions that might as well represent the heretofore-unheard influence of an actual alien culture. I’m hesitant to use words like “proggy” and “psychedelic,” because there are plenty of proggy, psychedelic death metal bands, and they sound nothing like this (but what does?). That said, Sweven is indeed progressive, and it is a fucking trip. It goes to weird, amazing, uncharted places, and it will take you there, too.
We’ve got one song from Sweven for you to hear today, the first track to be released from the LP, “It Stretches In The Hollow,” and it’s probably as good an individual representation as any of the album’s scope, ambition, and majesty. I encourage you to listen to it, and then purchase Sweven as soon as it’s available, because it’s one of the best albums of the year. Listen.
Sweven is out 3/4 via Century Media.