- Year 2017
- Genre Death/Doom
- Country Spain
- Label Satanath Records
- Rating Excellent
As a band, Moribundo appears to be just getting started. Although they first put roots down in 2014, this Spanish three-piece has remained largely undiscovered by the hungry, ever-seeking info-tendrils of the digital world. Their Facebook page, created in January of this year, has just over 500 followers; they don’t even have an entry in Metal Archives. And yet their debut album, “Raíz Amarga,” releasing June 18th through the always-intriguing Satanath Records, shows anything but the uncertainty and unconfidence you sometimes get with newer bands. Instead, Mortvs Vyyr (lyrics), Evilead (instruments), and Luis M. Merino (vocals) have taken their sweet time to concoct a potent cocktail of pondering doom spiked with a hefty dollop of abrasive death metal, serving both with a striking degree of skill that belies their young formation.
“Raíz Amarga” is an expertly blended debut album –devastatingly consistent in heaviness and mood.
Unlike the title implies, “Raíz Amarga” (“bitter root”) goes down smoothly. This is an expertly blended debut album — devastatingly consistent in heaviness and mood, a perfect pairing of distinct, tasteful melodies and storming, stinging acidity. Rather than indulge in an over-ambitious palette, Moribundo manages to stay true to their thematic vision of pain and despair while employing a broad sound-suite to fuel their songs. Heart-aching harmonies on par with soulful acts like the tragically just-retired While Heaven Wept co-mingle with bone-grinding guitars that chunk and chug. Menacing synth choirs add cinematic flavor, and a lilting female soprano (reminiscent of theatrically minded death metal act Fleshgod Apocalypse) provides a human — a despairing one, at that — element that complements the bleakness. There’s more: soft piano leads, soul-sweet acoustic breaks, ambient rain SFX… though varied, these sounds don’t undermine the album’s identity; it retains equal parts majesty and defeat while remaining a distinct form of hybridized death/doom.
Vocalist Luis wholly embodies this concept, bellowing with harsh roars or screeching with blackened intensity, giving voice to the raw, ragged emotions that Moribundo’s music expresses. These emotions take form in words based on poems written by lyricist Mortvs Vyyr, and are performed in Castilian. And although I couldn’t understand a word, it’s worth pointing out the importance Moribundo places on Mortvs’s lyrical role to give him a permanent place in the lineup, rather than bury him in a liner note credit. I’ll definitely have to dig up the translations (or flex my limited Spanish skills) so I can give them the credit they’re due.
Though only four tracks long, “Raíz Amarga” is dense yet rich and overflowing with impressive moments. Ominous, chunky intros pave the way for crashing, thundering rhythms and atmospheric breaks. The programmed drums mesh exceptionally with the weighty guitar tones, especially with the low, thudding toms. Other structural similarities are evident in the way the songs build and build and build toward magnificent crescendos that spill over with agonizingly powerful ardor. These instances of crushing catharsis enhance the songs’ earlier motifs, elevating them to new, energetic levels.
Doom is not a genre that usually grabs my attention right away. I’m usually too fatigued to make the trudging ascent that is required to truly grasp its power — but “Raíz Amarga” is worth the endeavor. I don’t know if instant, meteor-impact success for Moribundo is careening just over the horizon — perhaps they’ll climb steadily in doom-like fashion — but they deserve all the praise I can muster for this stunning debut. Friends, I implore you — whether you’re a fan of doom or not, ingest this “bitter root” as it is.