- Fighting man
- Save the day
- Those who watch
- In the end
- Lord of the north
Remember when it all began? Back in
’79, ‘when the dam began to burst’, to quote a song that you hold dear if you
heart beats to the thunder of metal (if it doesn’t, don’t bother reading on and
go waste your time and money on miserable nonsense like Snow Patrol). Oh, and
where did it begin exactly? In Great Britain, lads and lassies. Young British
bands swamped the underground music scene by the dozens to kick punk, pop and
those new wave sissies in their ugly little heads – and quite a number of them
succeeding bloody well in doing so, I might add.
2009 A.D., the world and everything in
it has changed in many ways, but real heavy metal is still braving every tide.
One of the bands intent on bringing back the spirit of old are Morpheus Rising
from York in the UK. Grae Tennick (vocals), Pete Harwood and Daymo Sweeting
(guitars), Andy Smith (bass) and Paul ‘Gibbo’ Gibbons (drums) continue a very
English metal tradition on ‘The original demos 2008’. This CDR (b/w cover,
lyrics inside) serves up five weighty tracks that do the legacy of NWoBHM proud.
Entering the arena with the anthemic ‘Fighting man’ – reissued in a re-recorded
version as a factory-pressed single in October/November 2009 – Morpheus Rising
sport all the trademarks of a dedicated band that refuses to do things by half.
Top-notch musicianship, melodic-yet-raw vocals from Tennick,
powerful-yet-natural production and, first and foremost, splendid compositions
with an edge to them. In other words: melodies and rhythms to bang your fist and
raise your head to. Er, well, you get the picture.
These five tracks, highly varying in
tempo, colour and atmosphere, are bound together by an epic and sometimes
melancholy feel. Listen to the wonderful intro to the mid-paced ‘Fighting man’
and its heartfelt lyrics/vocals and you’re hooked. The music is all the more
enjoyable because this band clearly works as a unit, with the musicians not
trying to outshine one another. Grae Tennick’s pleasant-on-the-eardrum voice has
soul and is a bit akin to that of Elixir’s Paul Taylor, while MR’s overall sound
isn’t far away from the London/South East bunch’s style either. You could do
worse in the comparisons department, right?
Other highlights are ‘Those who watch’
and ‘Lord of the North’. The first song is a runestone of doomy downtempo metal
that effortlessly maintains its suspense throughout, the latter a stoically slow
epic, lyrically inspired by the works of Bernard Cornwell, prolific British
author of historical novels. The third of Cornwell’s works in his cycle of
so-called ‘Saxon stories’ is called ‘The lords of the North’ (2006) and takes
place in savage 9th century Wessex and Northumbria. (See, we
reviewers do know our Wikipedia.)
An album’s worth of Morpheus Rising
metal is currently being forged, while the band is active on the good old pub
‘n’ club circuit as well. The aforementioned single of ‘Fighting man 2009’ – a
charity endeavour with proceeds going to Help for Heroes and Poppy Appeal, in
aid of families of wounded and fallen British soldiers – has been doing well on
the UK national charts. As is custom with good music, there was zero support
from the mainstream media, so: hats off to you, metal men of York.
My only qualms with this release would
be its CD-R format, but hey, better to have that than no demo at all, right? In
any case, Morpheus Rising, as the latest shiny link in the new chain of
traditionalist bands like High Spirits, In Solitude, Enforcer, Züül and Savage
Blade, are worthy of your attention and support. If you couldn’t care less for
all that overproduced and gimmicky stoner, nu, goth and
whatever-the-fad-is-this-week metal, give them a listen. And what the hell, drop
them a line and some cash too, just so you won’t kick yourself later for failing
to discover them earlier.