(Andy Synn dives back into the darkness once more with the new album from Russian Blackened Hardcore bruisers Morokh)
You know what they say… once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.
And, as it happens, this is the third album from Russia in just over a month that’s instantly established itself as one of my favourite records of the year, which suggests that either someone out there is purposefully targeting me and my listening tastes… or I’m just being paranoid (or am I?).
Now, I’ve covered Morokh a couple of times before here at NCS – first when I wrote about their second album, Клятва (“balancing both uncompromising aggression and ambitiously dynamic expression in equal measure”), and then again last year when I praised their Serpent’s Nest EP (“an intriguing glimpse at a band who may well be transitioning away from their roots towards a more malevolently melodic Black Metal sound”) – which means I can say, with a pretty high degree of confidence, that All the Darkness Looks Alive is easily the best thing they’ve ever done.
Interestingly, however, it also quickly puts the lie to my previous assertion that the group may have been moving away from their Blackened Hardcore roots, as while many of these songs do lean a lot harder into a more pure (not to mention blistering) Black Metal aesthetic inspired as much by bands like Dark Funeral and Necrophobic (“Revenant”, “Solitude Song”) as Satyricon (“Out of the Darkness”), it’s clear that Morokh have also doubled down on the unfettered anguish and aggression of their Hardcore side too, resulting in an album that most strongly recalls the abrasive auditory assault of groups like Celeste, Rorcal, and This Gift Is A Curse at their best (and most belligerent).
And while it might be cliché to say that All the Darkness… is “the heaviest thing the band have done”, it’s also undeniably true, as each and every track – from the blast-fuelled, groove-injected strains of “The Imprisoned”, to the fire-breathing fury of cathartic closer “Faces of Death” – is simultaneously an absolute face-melter, a neck-wrecker, a ball-breaker, and a bowel-loosener… actually, not so much that last one (though it does get pretty sludgy in places, as parts of “Nightmare” and “Helix” so amply demonstrate).
Suffice it to say, then, that there’s not a weak link to be found on this entire album (the only reason I haven’t said something about every single song is that I want to at least you at least some surprises), nor is there any sign of the band slowing down, easing off, or otherwise letting down their guard, even as their music becomes increasingly more dynamic and creative.
So, like I said before, that’s three-for-three from Russia for me over the last month alone, with Crust, Sterbefall, and now Morokh, all stepping up and delivering new albums which all look to have a very good chance of making an appearance in my year-end list(s) in one form or another.
I guess it just goes to show you… Металл действительно является глобальным языком.