Review by Felix on August 20, 2019.
Entombed’s stylistic odyssey destroyed their authenticity and integrity, at least to a certain degree. All this black'n'roll shit had only one effect, it worsened the quality of their outputs. Thus, it's nice to see that the almost romantically titled Morning Star does not suffer from an overdose of stylistic experiments. It does not sound like Left Hand Path or Clandestine, but it can be accepted as the pretty coherent new album of a death metal band that released its debut ten years ago. Of course, do not rejoice too quickly. This does not exclude pretty experimental tracks such as "Bringer of Light" (another dreamful title) with its mishmash of slow sequences, rocking parts and spoken words vocals. But the album also houses a song like "Ensemble of the Restless". A simple, rebellious and effective riff carries the torpedo-like thrash death bastard over the somehow programmatically short distance of 154 seconds and the final line of the lyrics ("we hate each other openly") hits the nail on the head. "Year One Now" and "About to Die" have similar configurations. They are unscrupulous death thrashers that invite to a nice little headbanging session. Too bad that they are even shorter than "Ensemble of the Restless", but this is the method to their madness.
Generally speaking, the guitars supply the heaviness one can expect when a death metal legend wants to score with a new album. The songs profit from clear contours and the riffs work precisely, "City of Ghosts", for instance, has an enormous effect which is triggered by its vicious riffing. Better still, there is a certain malignancy coming through almost each and every riff and this feature gives the album a dark and occasionally fatal aura. Even the melodic elements like the solo at the end of "Fractures" breathes the spirit of transience. This is among other things thanks to the powerful production. Morning Star appears as a massive rock with a rough surface. Naturally, the mix cannot completely make up for insubstantial compositions. "When it Hits Home" should have been sorted out. Despite its catchy chorus, it is not able to add much value to the album and the noisy "Young Man Nihilist" also leaves room for improvement. Nevertheless, the mix gives the songs the fitting frame. And ten or maybe even eleven out of twelve songs are worth listening, although the straight triple I have mentioned at the end of the first paragraphs remain untouched.
Really? I should not forget to mention the first title when it comes to the best tracks of the album. "Chief Rebel Angel" marks a worthy opener. It sounds raw and coarse, but it also has an almost theatrical component due to lamenting background vocals - or is it a keyboard? Either way, already the beginning leaves its mark. It introduces the album like the soundtrack of a horror movie. Malevolent comment from my side: this song could originate from Dimmu Borgir if those guys still would know how to write a blackened metal track full of tragic, depth and heaviness... Okay, Morning Star is no album that can be described with words such as classic, milestone or masterpiece. Despite its good, fresh and lively songs, it suffers from the fact that most followers of the Scandinavians were still waiting for the second part of Left Hand Path. Given this situation, we can discuss whether the output enriches the discography of the band. Purists will say no, but taken for itself, Entombed’s seventh full-length delivers a stable supply of vehement metal that does not kiss the feet of the zeitgeist in order to sell as many copies as possible. And this is a first step on the journey to regain integrity.
Rating: 8.1 out of 10
Review by Tobias on March 7, 2002.
Coming back at us all with chunky fuzzed out crushing riffs, no holds barred rhythm and tough-guy vocals, Entombed wields their Morning Star like a true weapon of destruction.
Trouncing your eardrums with the same pagan/Satanist attitude that was defined by Danzig and Deicide, singer L. G. Petrov gives one of his strongest balls-to-the-wall performances that will be well respected for ages by all thrash vocalists. Driving the songs with a charisma that is found on metal classics like Vulgar Display…, Petrov beats the problem of mediocre lyrics with incredibly focused force.
In what some might consider an open act of defiance, Entombed’s Uffe Cederlund and Alex Hellid produce a chunky and fuzzy sound, similar to stoner metal bands like Electric Wizard, but with thrash speed and a conquering edge. This is probably best exampled on the track ‘City of Ghosts’; a track that competes to be my favorite versus ‘Chief Rebel Angel’ and ‘I for an Eye’. Don’t be surprised if their rolling thunder results in lifetime heart palpitations.
The rhythm section which is nothing out of the ordinary is certainly strong enough to hold the band together and steady the rocket-fueled thrashing six stringers. Adding a few dynamics on this end could make this an all-time genre masterpiece.
After only two listens, I’ve gone from being slightly impressed to highly engrossed. The more I listen to the album, the more it seems to have the makings of the same greatness that bands like Pantera and Slayer are lauded for: strength, purposefulness, creativity and just being an all around badass.
As I find myself deeper in the clutches of Morning Star, I find that I’m starting to forget some of the weaknesses. That in and of itself is an envious strength! So I’ll mention them while I still care, there are some spots where the production could use some work and perhaps some new arrangements, most notably on ‘Out of Heaven’. Also there are the lyrics; not too original, but not the super-cheese bullcrap you hear from fellow satan-mongers Burzum, C.O.F. or In Aeternum… ah hell, time’s up, I don’t give two twits about that anymore. This is a classic.
Bottom Line: Morning Star will blast your bloody little pants off, this is a must for all fans of real metal.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.8 of 10