(Our cup runneth over — NCS reader/commenter Trollfiend, who clearly knows how to write a review that will cause you to brown your underoos with laughter, rejoins us for the second time this week with an immensely entertaining retrospective on the music of Minas Morgul. Allow me to say, “Pure blackity blackness with a side of black. Also, wolves.”)
Germans are good at a lot of things: making chocolate, designing cars, and brewing beer, for example. I bet you thought I was going to make some sort of crass WWII reference, like “they’re also good at invading Poland” or something inappropriate about the Holocaust. I would never do such a thing. I abhor stereotypes as much as I abhor lederhosen swamp-ass, and I don’t make jokes about horrific tragedies unless they’re really fucking funny.
So, in the interest of good fellowship with our jackbooted fascist friends over in good olde Deutschland, I am going to share with you one of their little musical gems, largely unknown outside the land of biergartens and polka. My German is not great, pretty much limited to what I’ve learned from repeat plays of Castle Wolfenstein, but as any true soldier of the Fatherland would do, I’m going to struggle manfully through this review without the use of Google Translate. So here we go: Minas Morgul.
If you’re thinking, ‘hey, I’ve heard that name before’, you’re either a big fan of pagan/black metal or a monstrous shaggy nerd-ape (the two aren’t mutually exclusive). Minas Morgul, for you folks who don’t know, is the name of the city of the Nazgul in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s also the name of a black metal band from Frankfurt. Now I’m not sure if Minas Morgul (the band… not to be confused with Minas Morgul, the Summoning album) counts as Tolkien metal per se – with songs like “AK-47 – Kalaschnikov-Standgericht”, it’s probably safe to say they deviate from the oeuvre just a little – but for the most part you can call them black metal pretty accurately. That is assuming you don’t count the occasional Rammsteinesque clean bridges that pepper their songs like hairy vestigial nipples on a child-devouring witch. (more after the jump . . .)
Okay, I admit it, I really just wanted to type “Rammsteinesque”. Sorry. Comparing this band to Rammstein does them (Minas Morgul) a disservice; but it’s the best analogy I’ve got.
Minas Morgul (not to be confused with Kylie Minogue) covers some fairly stable black metal ground. However, I find their songs sound a little more…constructed… than a lot of black metal offerings, and less like a whirlwind of angry bees in a cave. They blend a traditional black style with some riff consciousness, like the bastard Teutonic demon-spawn of Darkthrone and Amon Amarth. There’s definitely a lot of musical talent here, which you’d expect from a band with a few studio albums already. Plus, the bass player’s name is “Tard”. Does that mean something in German? If it does, I’m sorry for my completely immature and childish explosion of anus-puckering gigglesnorts.
I haven’t heard either of their demos (The Dark Age of Revelation / First Battle, both released in 1998); my introduction to the band came from their three-track EP Das Dunkle Reich Des Paganlords. Now I know from extensive beer drinkery that ‘Dunkle’ means dark, and I also know that ‘Reich’ means reign or rule… so this EP is called “The Dark Reign of the…” I’m not getting that last word. I think it means “angry testicles”.
Regardless, this EP pretty much showcases the Minas Morgul sound. “Paganlord”, with its eerie synth, clean-chant bridges, and acidic black rasps traded off with deathy growls is almost everything you can expect from this band all rolled into one song. The eight-plus minute epic “Vom Meisterring” (“From the Master Ring”) is pure savage black metal, sounding like it’s being screamed from the towers of Minas Morgul (the city) by Ringwraiths (not to be confused with the Tolkien/black metal band Ringwraith out of Italy).
Schwertzeit (“Sword of Time”) is their first full length album (released 2002). Some of the songs, like “Storm”, which I’m pretty sure is actually sung in English, is your basic fucked-with-a-dirty-chainsaw black metal grind with what sounds like a pan-pipe overlay. “Blut und Eisen” (“Blood and Iron”) is a galloping pagan shriekfest without the slightest hint of folkiness to it at all. “Eisengott” (not to be confused with the Minas Morgul album Eisengott) is a more melodic offering, though no less savage for that. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that as a language, German works REALLY fucking well with the black metal genre.
Todesschwadron Ost (“Eastern Death Squad”, released in 2006) is a tight album, featuring more clean chants than any of their other works as near as I can tell, though I find this doesn’t detract as much as I would have thought. If you listen to ‘Der Herr der Erde’ (‘Man of the Earth’, I think), you will likely soil yourself at the inhuman bestial growling that makes up the chorus and which is incidentally (and not unpleasantly) contrasted with a clean bridge. ‘AK-47’ (previously mentioned) is almost a black/core track, and my personal favourite off this album, the bonus track ‘Har-Har-Karaz’, opens with a great melodic riff before taking off at a blazing gallop which eventually calms to a forced march though shitty sludge-swamps of doom.
“Aus Blut Gemacht” (“Made From Blood”, released 2007) is a bit more experimental, though I can’t stress enough that it’s still balls-out black. The song “Schatten des Krieges” (“Battle Shits”… don’t quote me on that) is melodic and morose, but still heavy as fuck. The track “Bringer des Sturms” (no idea…I almost caved and used Translate on this one) has an old-school death vibe though the vocals are blacker than the inside of a zombie Viking’s rectum…except for the clean-sung (not chanted) bridge.
And I highly recommend their brutal demolition of the Motorhead song “Iron Fist”on this album, though I do NOT recommend trying to simultaneously mosh and goosestep while listening to it. For one thing, it’s a horrible stereotypical indictment of the proud and friendly German peoples, and for another it’s highly likely that you’ll kick yourself in the junk, as I did.
Schildfront (“Shield Front”…that’s just plain good advice) is a split with Bavarian black metallers Varg. I haven’t heard too much of this (and I’m not too familiar with Varg) so I’m not going to comment except to say that Minas Morgul’s cover of the Varg song “Mit Den Wolfen Ziehend” is pure blackity blackness with a side of black. Also, wolves.
2009’s Eisengott (“Iron God”), aside from featuring some fucking sick cover art, shows the evolution of this band in its prime. The song “Rot” (“Red”, not to be confused with, well, rot) sounds almost like old-school thrash. “Eisengott 2.0” (not to be confused with the album Eisengott or the song “Eisengott”) is actually a re-imagining of their original “Eisengott”, which I would likely not have realized if I hadn’t heard the word “schwert” ground out from vocalist Rico’s bowels the same way it had been in the original version.
“Minas Morgul” (the Minas Morgul song called “Minas Morgul”, not to be confused with the city of the Nazgul named Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings) has a really great fat bass riff and a nice pagan sounding stomp to it… I find myself growling along with the chanted chorus of “Minas, Minas, Minas….MORGUL” in the least appropriate locations (at the McDonalds drive through, in line at the free clinic, during sex, etc.)
Of course it’s inevitable that any German extreme metal band is going to have its share of internet bottom-feeders proclaiming that they’re an NSBM band. I did some research, because let’s face it, I love German beer. Really that has no bearing on the topic, but I felt it was important enough to warrant mentioning. Seriously, German beer is really fucking fantastic. Have you ever had a Kostritzer Schwarzbier? It’s a dark blonde lager with hints of chocolate and roasted malt. Goes excellently with a plate of spaetzle and knackwurst.
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, as far as I can tell Minas Morgul (not to be confused with Nicki Minaj’s bunghole) has absolutely no Nazi leanings. Which is good, because while I’m perfectly willing to accept an entire album featuring songs about tentacle rape, zombie orgies, and/or cannibalizing children, I can’t abide self-righteous pricks who think they’re better than anyone else.
Anyway, enough soap-boxing. If you like black metal, Viking metal, beer, pagan metal, Tolkien, Germans, beer, guns, Teutonic clean chants, beer, orcs, beer, Nazgul, or beer, check out Minas Morgul (the German Minas Morgul, not to be confused with the other black metal band named Minas Morgul from Poland, or the prog/death Minas Morgul from Finland, or the other other black metal Minas Morgul who I think are from Spain. Dirty Spaniard bastards.)
Minas Morgul (De) are currently UNSIGNED and actively hunting for a record label.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s “Minas Morgul” (the Minas Morgul song called “Minas Morgul”, not to be confused with the city of the Nazgul named Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings):[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/04_minas_morgul.mp3|titles=Minas Morgul – Minas Morgul]