2017 was the year Germany’s MORAST devoured me alive. Yes indeed. Having risen from the ashes of German sludge-doom aberrants Nightslug, Morast is like the darkening and sublimation of that band’s legacy in slow-crawling destruction – moving into more classic metal realm and with way more ambitious intents and purposes. Released on March 31st by TOTENMUSIK and VÁN Records, Morast’s debut Ancestral Void is one of the most cohesive, abyssal, and mind-bending death-doom debuts I have heard all year so far. With a foreboding wall of vibrating and earth-shaking down-tuned tremolo chaos, Ancestral Void strides forth with imposing magnificence, shrouded in decaying moods and blood-chilling atmospheres.
When skull-crushing opener “Crescent” bursts open the gates to hell, it feels like being kicked in the stomach. Air is vacuumed from the lungs and pains rushes into your bones as the music dissipates out like an otherworldly swarm. The riff-stampede appears instantly enormous and of inescapable proportions, but also cloaked in beauty and in a keen sense of majesty. Even in it’s mid-tempo jagged trudge, “Crescent” feels like a raging onslaught: it stomps the head so hard and pushes the listener down with such force, it feels as if a behemoth is burying everything in a tomb of black hole-sized riffs. Following crusher “Forlorn” knowns no regression and just violently pounds further making the bands cascading wall of riffs seem utterly inescapable. At this point, the band’s formula starts coming into light and taking clear shape: it is like witnessing The Ruins of Beverast, Disembowelment, Indian, Krypts, and Harvest Gulgatha getting all ground together in a chasm of lightless oppression. The following track, “Ancestral Void” is one of the most eerie, slow and creepy moments of the album where sheer DOOM is achieved as the tempos collapse to a slithering coma. This track really reminded me of tracks like “Black Snow” or “The Prolonging” by Triptykon… Slow moving, demoralized, and nightmarish walls of sonic dread, not devoid of melody and of extremely evocative with its haunting atmospheres.
Side B obviously does not shift far from the first three long tracks, and just passes the knife over flesh again, opening the wound even deeper and widening the spectrum of dread and suffering. While “Loss” is a classic death-doom colossus (in the vein of early Paradise Lost etc. but with a marked Celtic Frost feel to it), the closing tracks “Compulsion” and “Sakkryfyced” seem to attempt an unlikely crawl back to the surface where the album opened on a more lively and kicking note, but failing miserably in the task, as the levels of dismay and oppression are such to have placed the remainder of the album in an abyss of deep, irreversible, and inescapable dread. Overall Triptykon, Celtic Frost in its slower Monotheist-era, or in Tom Fischer’s most demoralizing moments are what Morast’s Ancestral Void has most reminded me of, along with all the various other similar expressions in the genre: The Ruins of Beverast, Paradise Lost, etc. Ancestral Void is at times a sickening listen, troublesome, oppressive, nauseating in its thick and heavy atmospheres, but the melodies woven are at time irresistible and create that net of safety that leave you suspended above the void gasping in awe at the immensity of nothingness unfolded before you. For sure one of the best death-doom releases of the year. Out now on TOTENMUSIK and VÁN Records.