Blood Oracle

I don’t really know what it is about Austin, Texas’ Morgengrau and their sophomore album, Blood Oracle, but something just doesn’t quite resonate with me. All the components for a kick-ass listen are there and the performances are all quite solid to say the least and honestly, while the album is spinning I seem to enjoy it well enough; though nevertheless I don’t get an urge to hit replay once the album is over. Initially, I thought my feelings were a bit hasty, so I made sure to give Blood Oracle an abundance of listening time, yet my opinion stands firm. While Blood Oracle is not a bad experience in any shape or means, it just doesn’t do enough to stand above the pack.

A shame too, as their style of thrashy, blackened death metal is quite endearing as it invokes a blend of Nocturnus (without the keys/synths), Pestilence, Dreaming Dead, Astarte, Asphyx, and Slayer, as well as a few nods to Incantation and fellow Texans, Absu. Yet as endearing as it is, it doesn’t help or change the problem of Blood Oracle simply sounding too safe. In all honesty, I think this can be chalked up to the album having a too “clear” and “controlled” production. Don’t get me wrong, Morgengrau sound great on Blood Oracle and their tones and/or levels are all fantastic, but there is just something lacking in the “bite” department, resulting in a slight tameness. I’m willing to bet that a little bit of reckless abandon, or even a smidge of raw sloppiness, could do wonders for the presentation of Blood Oracle‘s material. I would imagine in the live setting this material opens up in vast ways, achieving a more dynamic presence in the songs than what is captured on disc.

Something else I found to hinder the album for me personally, was Blood Oracle‘s tracklisting. Of the album’s eight songs, I found the second half to be more appealing and engaging. So much so, that upon repeat listens, I tended to find that I enjoyed the first half of Blood Oracle much more after being played immediately following the second half. Maybe if the tracklist was simply reversed, Blood Oracle would have hit me harder and pulled me in quicker than it did, or ultimately didn’t do.

Here’s where I start to sound like a hypocrite though, because as much as I have just passive-aggressively bashed Blood Oracle, the last thing I am going to tell you about the album is that it really is pretty good. All the individual tracks have something to like about them and even though their placement/order on the album coud have been better, they all tend to flow evenly. I can see why Unspeakable Axe picked up the band, as their style fits the label perfectly, as well as pairs up nicely to other Unspeakable Axe artists such as Trenchrot and Ripper, and even parent label, Dark Descent, and their release of Skeletal Remains’ awesome new album. While it doesn’t outdo the labelmates that I just listed and doesn’t hold a candle to the bands influences, Blood Oracle have proved that with a little fine tuning, or maybe in their case, a little less fine tuning Morgengrau definitely could make an impact on the sometimes highly convoluted scene of extreme metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
July 6th, 2018


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