In 2011 Boston quartet Morne tore up the Atmospheric Doom template with sophomore album Asylum (Profound Lore): a dark, brooding masterpiece with strong Crust influences, it garnered favourable comparisons with the likes of Neurosis and Agrimonia whilst acknowledging their own identity. Fourth studio album To the Night Unknown (Armageddon/MORNE) is the band’s first recorded output for five years, and it kicks in with fizzing tension.
In turns brutal and reflective, Milosz Gassan’s gravelly roar soars alongside a pulsating riff and Billy Knockenhauer’s colossal stickwork on the opening title track. The ensuing ‘Not Our Flame’ is a tortured beast alternating between mid and slow pace and again dictated by a mammoth rhythm section. The pensive second half is decorated by eighties Goth-like leadwork, which is delightfully nostalgic.
There’s a slower pace to ‘The Blood Is Our Own’ which gives added weight to the aura, whilst the orchestral strings underpinning the track give a mournful edge. The pulverising, chopped riff of ‘Scorn’ meanwhile is surrounded by a cocoon of noise and Gassan’s dry throat in a structure reminiscent of Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ but with more portent than the Bay Area legends have ever carried.
Fans of this year’s Raum Kingdom album will find plenty to enthral them here. ‘Show Your Wounds’ is a bruising slow burner, laden with might and anguish but not breaking its shackles, thus adding to the emotional bond. ‘Night Awaits the Dawn’ initially has a Hardcore element, a huge resonance not dwarfing a mid-paced groove. The drop to the throbbing intensity of the second movement is eventually lightened by another stirring solo, while the ploughing power of the instrumentation is akin to the emotional crush of Pallbearer.
The meaty melody of ‘Shadowed Road’ is balanced by a sense of tragedy and and more of Gassan’s angst-ridden delivery which creates a sense of empathy and belonging. Closer ‘Surrendering Fear’ has a rhythmic pulse and is layered with a shattering riff and more plaintive leads, the lament screamed forth as if saying goodbye to a loved one rather than a long-awaited product.
It’s a passionate way to end a wonderful album full of pain, pathos and strength.