It is always nice to see that there are still new bands in the metal scene that are trying to rescue the sounds and textures of the old days. Some in a more successful way than others, but refreshing nevertheless. American band Morgul Blade is one of such bands and with their debut album “Fell Sorcery Abounds” they manage to capture a lot of the essence of old-school 80s metal and compact it into a small collection of fun songs that you can headbang to. It is not a flawless release, but it definitely is a fun ride. Morgul Blade plays a very effective mix of classic Heavy Metal with some ripping blackened vocals and the occasional clean baritones that give it an epic Viking Metal edge.
The album opens with “He Who Sits Upon The Black Throne of Angmar/The Morgul Blade”. The first part of the song is a dungeon synth-style intro that perfectly sets the mood for a retro-inspired album. It reminds me of those old NES RPG video games that were all about killing dragons and exploring dungeons. The second part of the song is a classic heavy metal song with ripping vocals and some pretty cool riffs and harmonies. It is a strong start definitely. “A Last Waltz of Gevaudan” is next, an epic song with an amazing rhythmic base. Riffs are super catchy in this song that reminds me more of bands like Heidevolk with its Viking metal elements. Clean vocals are introduced in this song, and they are used perfectly. “In the Grip of the Dark Lord” comes next. This is a slower song with soaring voices, galloping drums, and nice harmonies. Definitely more mellow sounding than the opening songs, but it gives us a good break. Baritone’s clean vocals are further explored in this one giving it an even more Viking metal sound than the previous song. “Sons of the Night” comes next to take us back to a frenetic state of moshing. This one is a bite-sized headbanger that has great guitar work and even some blast beats thrown in a very enjoyable way. An amazing song whose only fault is that it is way too short. Clocking at 2:37 it almost feels cut in half.
“Oak in the Mist” is next, and while this one is the same short length as its predecessor, it works perfectly as it is. A dark folky acoustic song with beautiful soaring vocals and fiddle leads that strongly remind me of Primordial. I absolutely love this track. “The Five Will Ride at Dawn” comes next. And I must say, after a bunch of killer songs, this one feels a little bit like a step back. It is another galloping epic song with some interesting ideas, but in the end, it feels a bit too similar in vibe to “In the Grip of the Dark Lord”, just a tad slower. “The Beacons Must Be Lit!” thunders right after with a great classic Heavy Metal riff and intriguing melodies. This track has some nice contrasts between doomy slower sections and faster tremolo-picked ones. As a side note, I love the keyboards in the outro. “Blood Has Been Spilled This Night” is quite skippable in my personal opinion. As it is basically 2 and a half minutes of a droning atmosphere that doesn’t do much for the album other than build expectation for the closing track “Fell Sorcery Abounds”, which is a very adequate choice for the last song. The band showcases everything they can do and they have done in previous tracks in a 6-minute headbanger. Sometimes the section changes might feel a little bit abrupt but rarely unjustified. The only thing about this song that felt awkward to me was the way it fades out and leads to another dungeon synth outro to properly close the album. Otherwise, a very enjoyable song altogether.
Production-wise the album is decent but there is room for improvement. The lead guitars feel a bit thin when compared to the rhythmic base in my opinion. But in general, is a good-sounding album that manages to give you that sense of nostalgia for old metal. If you are a fan of classic metal with an edge, this one is for you.
Album highlights: A Last Dance of Gevaudan, Sons of the Night, Oak in the Mist, The Beacons Must be Lit!
For fans of: Brocas Helm, Bal-Sagoth, Bucovina, Gods Tower
Morgul Blade: Facebook
Release Year: 2021
Label: No Remorse Records
Reviewed by Roman Ibarra