Morta Skuld
Surface (Reissue)

Milwaukee Wisconsin’s Morta Skuld released their fourth album, Surface, in 1997 on the now defunct record label System Shock.  The band had been pounding away at their grooving and punishing style of death metal for several years and guitarist/vocalist, Dave Gregor, Jason O’Connell-guitar, Jason Hellman-bass and Kent Truckenbrod showed no signs of letting up on this album.

1997 was a tough year for death metal.  It was the year, my second album The Extinction of Benevolence, with Internal Bleeding, was released and we were already seeing a shift in the scene.  Some bands were either breaking up, slowing down or incorporating some alternative metal to their sound.  It was rough.  Fans were zoning out a bit more and some of the show turnouts, were not as crushing.  Clubs were also having more of a difficult time filling venues with just death metal bands.  Therefore there was a shift in some weird show combinations in live settings.  Regardless, Morta Skuld, were one of the bands who not only remained true to their sound, but expanded upon it, creating more of a darker themed album, with almost like a blatant middle finger to the evolving beloved death metal scene, thus creating quite a brutal album.  More of the bands were going more underground at this time, anyway and again, this time period and a year or two afterwards, many bands just broke up.

Out of print for years, Repulsive Echo, who have been responsible for some killer reissues, like Demented Ted, relatively recently are really putting the love into reissues.  I will soon be reviewing the Gutted and The Psalm reissues, by this great label.  This Greek label is run by a man by the name of Kostas who loves classic and well played death and thrash metal.  A man helping the scene and bringing some of these classics back to life.  This release, I guess you can say is in co-release with another label: Lusitanian Music.

This reissue has been almost a labor of love for Dave Gregor and now that it’s finally reissued he can breathe a sigh of relief.  The album has been remastered and is housed in a thick digipak.  Tracks like album opener “The Killing Machines”, just steamroll you with the remastering.  On this record Dave also dropped his pitch a bit and sounded even more brutal than ever.  The band opened this album with one of their strongest tracks.  The groove is punishing and the second song, “Save Yourself” has such a great guitar riff and the remastering will send you through trees at a billion mph.  Again with the added deepness to Dave’s vocals the band also incorporated some brutal blast beats on this album and it just adds to the middle finger aspect Morta Skuld was telling everyone, in 1997:  “You wussies can write your wimpy ass metal and change to become more popular-but F You, we’re here to write kick-ass death metal music and if you don’t like it than you can just go home and watch My Little Pony”.  Actually Morta Skuld never said this, just me.  The band also experimented with some darker lyrical themes and tracks like “The Anger in Disguise”, had almost a poly-rhythm aspect, as well as sprinkled across the 8 song 34 minute album, a few little industrial metal influences.  It just added to the depth of this amazing album.

I mentioned the remastering-yes it’s louder, prouder and massive.  The double bass will collapse chest cavities worldwide and make no apologies for doing so.  The lyric are included in the poster fold out booklet.  Joe Denby, who I greatly respect-Brutalism.com, does a great job writing a little biographical account of the album on the inside of the digipak.   He also does an interview with Dave, on the opposite side of one of the panels and I learned some new info about Morta Skuld.  The album cover is still cool and always a bit odd.  But yes, the skull, how it’s incorporated in the background was quite creative and really goes along with the album themes.  This is a fantastic reissue of Surface and a buy and die in my book-go out and get it now!!

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
March 22nd, 2018

Comments

  1. Commented by: Allred

    Great review for an overlooked and underrated album for sure. I still have my Pavement release of this album. Too bad too many metalheads were caught up in this “death metal is dead” phase of the late ’90’s. Everyone was so enamored with Emperor and the black metal movement at the time, in general, that they missed out on some killer shit.


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Ive got original press of this and gave it a listen today- still solid stuff.


  3. Commented by: Blake Solomon

    Hmmmm…

    This is the only Morta Skuld release I don’t own…I have original first pressings of Dying/Humanity/Eternity…

    This got a fair amount of hate over at Metal-Archives…

    If you guys recommend it, I’ll check it out!!!


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