Fans of The Elder Scrolls will have some idea where Morag Tong are coming from. The Sludgy, spacey promise shown on the London quartet’s 2016 demo has been enhanced on debut album Last Knell Of Om (self-released), with an added depth and maturity emboldening a sound which is in turns throbbing and melancholic, yet full of trippy Psychedelia. Instrumental opener ‘Transmission’ is bossed by an indolent, morose bassline and swirling oscillations, while lead guitars fizz and howl melodiously over the body. The last knell of Om indeed…
‘New Growth’, meanwhile, showcases the variety of the band’s influences: a funereal oppression of massive chords and fat notes segues into a gentle, Floydian middle section before boosting into a slow crush reminiscent of Witchsorrow. The wonderful ‘We Answer’ is altogether more pensive: the first half a hypnotic, Jazzy melody bathing in the ever-strengthening background fuzz; the second organically expanding the template, both in volume and in Adam Asquith’s harsh, Bluesy vocal, before irresistible weight crushes all in its path.
‘To Soil’ takes that weight and aptly plants it through the earth, a bone-shaking rhythm section having its path greased by an element of tunefulness and a sparing yet ominous roar: the whole Conan-like, but less battle hymn than an emotionally-exhausting funeral dirge. ‘Ruminations’ lumbers around the mind like a brooding monster, a slow yet pounding Stoner groove through the mind, before epic closer ‘Ephemera – Stare Through The Deep’ begins the final descent: the delight of a looping cough breaking the dreamy opening before the familiar chords swell and cover the return to earth in fuzzy, dark tendrils. Rarely does this dying monstrosity break its shackles, owing something to Om both in this regard and in the laconic, lifeless vocal: yet the colossal resonance and increasing emotion maintain a torturous hold.
This is some first effort, showing admirable versatility within a staple diet of rhythm and titanic riffs. It’s a deeply moving piece showing the sadness and tumult of death yet also the power and emotion of life remaining. Morag Tong has arrived and shows signs of impressing us further in future.