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Morgoth: The Best of Morgoth 1987 - 1997

Morgoth was one of the first and most important death metal bands of Germany, especially during the early 90's. They started out in 1987 and had a great run till 1997 when their last album Feel Sorry for the Fanatic wasn't received well by their older death metal fanbase and the band decided to call it a day.

This double-CD compilation encompasses the band's entire discogrpahy, starting from their 1989 EP Resurrection Absurd and also offering us some rare demos from the band's earliest days circa the Pits of Utumno demo. The first CD is more focused on the band's studio EP's and albums, and features three tracks from each release, in chronological order. This will certainly help those who have never heard Morgoth make up their mind on what phase of the band may appeal to them the most. Also, it is great listening to the first CD as you can vividly see the growth and change from one album to the next. Though I'll be the first to say that the band's first two releases are unique as they served the big purpose of paving the way for many other bands. Along with that, the three Resurrection Absurd cuts are simply masterful. The sound is not the best, but the writing is spectacular, especially for a band in barely their late teens. The raw, somewhat Possesed-like "Selected Killing" has got to be among the best Morgoth songs, of any period. Its structure and harmony belie the fact that this was a song on the band's first release. When you give the song a close listen, you will be shocked to discover their ear for atmosphere and mood, perfectly captured with sudden breaks and instrumental sections. Also, the guitar work is arguably their best - sickeningly atonal passages are interwoven with cutting lead riffs, something that was perfected on Morbid Angel's early 90's albums.

That said, it was Eternal Fall and especially Cursed that put Morgoth on the death metal map. The first thing that strikes you on the Eternal Fall tracks is the wild kick drum sound, not to mention its strong sonics. "White Gallery" is a superb work of technical death metal with scary, flick music type of cinematic passages, whilst "Pits of Utumno" is the epitome of death metal riffage, blending cluttered atmospherics with magical tapping harmonics. The Cursed cuts are more refined and structured. By this time, the band had already developed into a mature act with a strong compositional vision. They successfully delivered the epic "Body Count", the almost doomy "Isolated" (with sparkling drum work) and even further diversified the album with the blackened death metal of "Sold Baptism", a piece captured by fierce tremelo-picking.

The Odium and Feel Sorry for the Fanatic songs wrap the first disc up. Although considered the best by many, I've always felt Odium was merely a logical continuation of the band's earlier releases, with more emphasis put on the guitar work. There are some tracks on it that are mercilessly heavy, though only one of them is featured on this compilation: "Under the Surface". Given that people gave Odium a good listen, they shouldn't be too surprised by Feel Sorry for the Fanatic. Yes, the death metal overtones are next to nonexistent, and yes, the vocals of Marc Gewen have turned into slightly throaty singing, with no more growls. However, there are some interesting ideas on these songs, particularly the experimental piece "This Fantastic Decade", infused with industrial and more electronic soundscapes, and the rhythmically challenging "Graceland". Had these songs been better produced and worked, they would have had garnered a bigger following, especially in 2006.

The second disc is a rarities compilation. Six demos from the band's Pits of Utumno Demo will let you have a look into the band's earlier phase, while the seventh track "Golden Age" is a previously unreleased number. "TV War" is an older version of the band's "A New Start", with different lyrics and less polished production. There are also six videos on the second disc which should excite any Morgoth fan.

The packaging is awesome, with detailed information on the band's albums and demos. It lists what song was taken from where, but on top of it all, there is a very well written band history by vocalist Marc Grewe. He talks about how they formed and changed their name from Cadaverous Smell to Minas Morgul and then finally to Morgoth. While I'm not a big fan of death and black metal compilations, those that are well done like this, with unreleased songs, videos, and informative notes make for a good item.

Never heard Morgoth before and you're a death metal fan? Pick this up. Study it hard and decide what album of theirs you want to explore next.

Track Listing

Disc One

  1. Selected Killing
  2. Lies of Distrust
  3. Travel
  4. Burnt Identity
  5. White Gallery
  6. Pits of Utumno
  7. Body Count
  8. Isolated
  9. Sold Baptism
  10. Resistance
  11. Under the Surface
  12. Drowning Sun
  13. This Fantastic Decade
  14. Graceland
  15. Last Laugh

Disc Two

  1. From Dusk to Dawn
  2. Being Boiled
  3. Eternal Sanctity
  4. Pits of Utumno
  5. Beyond
  6. Dance Their Dance
  7. Golden Age
  8. TV War
  9. Indifferent
  10. Isolated [video]
  11. Cursed/Sold Baptism [video]
  12. Under the Surface [video]
  13. Last Laugh [video]
  14. Body Count [live video]
  15. Resistance [live video]

Added: March 19th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Century Media
Hits: 2424
Language: english

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