(In this post we bring you two songs from the forthcoming reissue of the debut album by the unusual Greek band Morpheus Tales, along with the following review by Greek guest writer Chrysostomos Tsaprailis.)
Black metal and space have been closely intimated throughout the genre’s history. Not so much as the last frontier for humanity, but rather as an approximation of the Unknown, space exhibits close ties with the genre’s uncanny essence. The noir art genre on the other hand, though somewhat close aesthetically to black metal, has never been much associated with it, mainly due to the former’s emphasis on human emotions and relations, something undoubtedly contrary to the black metal thought-form. Still, the Greek experimental black metal band Morpheus Tales assume the difficult task of presenting a cosmic noir tale in their aptly named debut Secular Noir.
The album was first released independently on digital format in 2014, and two years after, it will finally see a physical release via the new Greek Arcane Angels label, firstly on tape as a taste of what’s to come, and then on both vinyl and CD editions. All physical releases will sport new cover art and band logo, created by Arcane Accidents, a sub-division of Arcane Angels, which will be responsible for the artwork of several other releases of the label as well.
Secular Noir is first and foremost an album tightly packed with diversity; catchy, melodic choruses are intertwined with disharmonic guitar elements, which are in turn contrasted by progressive riffing of a psychedelic hue, yet again alternating with some buzzing thrashy moments. Vocals are a many-faced entity, moving from typical growls to an almost clear pompous singing (which does remind of Greek scene acts, especially Nightfall), and then escalating to hymnal chanting.
Guitars are unusually agile for a black metal release, not afraid of soloing, always highly precise yet not sounding clinical or sterilized, augmented by an organic and clean production. Composition-wise, things are quite adventurous, several of the songs being long-winded adventurous exhibitions consisting of several parts. Take for instance the title track, an oceanic opus with an almost existential hue, kicking off as frigid black metal, transforming into a fragile, hypnotic passage through psychedelic mirrors, and then verging on an almost epic metal (a la Bathory) acoustic interlude, in order to climax on a furious progressive/black mix, never losing its solid integrity.
If one were to draw parallels with another band, the obvious choice would be Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir (who also come from Thessaloniki), though other Greek scene names could be referenced (the aforementioned Nightfall, as well as Bohemian Grove). Beyond that, the resulting amalgam draws upon Anthems-era Emperor, as well as Moonfog’s “intelligent” black metal scene. Not to mention a psychedelic-jazz crossover (most evident in the second track, “The Milky White Dame,” highlighted by the distinct use of saxophone) which aesthetically successfully relates to the noir genre. As for the progressive and psychedelic aspects, Pink Floyd is the name that surfaces almost effortlessly, especially taking into account the dreamy guitar currents.
It is evident that Morpheus Tales draw upon a multitude of influences, managing to incorporate them almost seamlessly. Their personal trademark is the highly unusual (for a black metal release) range of emotions that they manage to evoke. From an emotional point of view, the closest thing to Secular Noir is probably Fleurety’s debut – an impressive feat in itself.
Editor’s Note: We’ll also mention that in other Arcane Angel news, the label will also be releasing a “budget-priced special tape edition” of Spectral Lore’s Sentinel, accompanied by a silver pendant. The label has also announced the first live gigs of Hail Spirit Noir, as well as the release of the enhanced remastered version of Ιnculcator’s Void Abecedary, both of whom we’ve featured recently in our Shades of Black series (here) — and of course we recently premiered a track from Hail Spirit Noir’s new opus.
Now, enjoy “Freedom Of A Dying Star” and “Living Sexual Dimension (L.S.D.)” from Secular Noir: