One would desperately hope that a metal album inspired by the events of Chernobyl would be littered with hints of occultism, cloaked in sulphuric blackened nuances, and evoking creepy Silent Hill-ish moments.  Agruss‘s Morok has a little bit of this, but it’s not as effective as it could be.  The genre used to convey the story is basically a dark version of deathcore, when it seems that something more atmospheric would have done the job better.

Opener “Damnation” begins in good fashion, using a placid instrumental intro to reel listeners in.  After a minute or so things begin to heat up and the pace quickens, with fast blasting and guttural vocals taking over.  Then…wait, what?  A breakdown?  This must be a joke.  Oh, it’s not…it leads into more deathcore grunt-grunt-grunt-chugga-chugga action.  Okay.  This is the part of the review where I have to detail that it’s hard for me to take anything -core related seriously, but a fair review will still be given.

Morok is described as “atmospheric black/death metal.”  That’s semi-accurate.  It’s kind of atmospheric, and it has brief, fleeting moments of black metal influence, but for the most part, this is a death metal album.  Most times it seems the attempted black metal moments fall more in line with deathcore, especially since plenty of them end with the accursed breakdown.  To be true, there are certainly some cool moments within the tunes from Agruss‘s first album.  Some of the more atmospheric sections are effective (case in point: the beginning of “Ashes of the Future”), the level of musicianship heard is nothing to scoff at, and “Under the Snow” is a black metal-ish track that seems to truly fit with the theme of the album.  But the overall amalgam of Dying Fetus meets post-whatever just doesn’t seem to fit.

Kudos to Agruss for reaching out from Ukraine and tying horrors from their homeland into the extreme metal category.  That alone is worth a commendation.  While it’s not exactly this reviewer’s cup of tea, Morok is a solid release, though there seems to be a bit of an identity crisis going on within.  Hopefully after some time and progression, Agruss will find a true niche in which to hold on.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
August 8th, 2012


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