Like many metal genres, thrash manifests itself in different ways, though some would say the variations are much more limited than in the sonic realms of (for example) death and black metal. And perhaps because variations on the style seem to operate within a limited range, the quality of the riffs becomes all the more critically important.
To cut to the chase, the Swedish band Morbid Breath write riffs that are lethally infectious. And as you’ll discover from our premiere of a track off their debut EP In the Hand of the Reaper, that’s not the only thing they do really well.
The febrile, pulsating riff that launches “Ancient Beasts” sinks its hooked claws into the listener’s brain damned fast, backed by punishing drum bursts, heavy and mauling bass lines, and savage, serrated-edge death-metal growls. When the rhythm converts to a hammering gallop the band introduce an element of the supernatural through an eerie, sinister chord progression, and there’s a glorious, swirling and screaming guitar solo in the mix, as well as jolting sequences that will kick-start your headbang reflex.
But it’s that opening riff, which repeatedly rears its venomous head, that makes the track so fiendishly addictive. The punishing heaviness and bestial vocals are sweet icing on the cake.
The band’s ability to cook up viscerally potent and highly infectious riffs isn’t limited to the track we’re premiering today, as you can confirm by checking out the previous wild ride from the EP, aptly titled “Hellbringer” (which is a re-recorded version of an earlier single). And you really better loosen up your neck for this one:
Morbid Breath is a relatively new formation, having emerged only in the late summer of 2020 as a studio project by guitarist Stefan Carrillo to pay homage to Slayer. By the end of summer, he was joined by Marcus Eriksson (bass/vox), David Gustafsson (drums) and Felix Klaesson (lead guitar), and their collaboration produced that first single, “Hellbringer“, on Halloween of that same year.
What came next was this new EP, which seized the attention of Redefining Darkness Records, who will release it on May 21st. The label writes: “The band’s debut EP sounds like it could have come straight off a mix cassette tape in an 80’s tape trade. Morbid Breath‘s approach takes its cues from many of the usually suspects and does a great job of merging early Metallica, Slayer, and Venom with the a bit of the Teutonic Thrash of Kreator and Sodom. In the Hand of the Reaper oozes authenticity and is a solid promise of what is to come in the future from this 4 piece!”
If you like what you hear (and why the hell wouldn’t you?), the EP is currently available for pre-order on CD, cassette tape, and digital formats: