Morkera - Official Website
Review by Ves on April 13, 2023.
Why Morkera's Entangled Excavations was my most replayed album in 2022?
The Croatian metal scene, much like other ex-Yugo countries, does not get enough love outside the Balkans. Not because it's bad, in fact there are some incredible bands hailing from Croatia. However, as it is a small country in Eastern (or Southeastern, Southern, whatever...) Europe, and has a correspondingly small scene which lives underground, one should not be surprised that metalheads across the globe have a hard time naming a single Croatian metal band.
I'd like to educate those people by introducing them to one of the youngest offerings of the Croatian death/black metal scene - Morkera. The band appeared in my YouTube feed in June, with the debut album posted by Black Metal Promotions. At that point, there was no mention of them anywhere, not even a Metal Archives page. To add to the mystique, the vinyl records from the first batch on their Bandcamp page sold out instantly, granted it was a limited run of 6 copies. After seeing the cover art and getting nowhere with internet searches, I just gave up and played the album. And oh man, am I glad I did.
The opening track, 'Muse', hits you relentlessly with a tremolo picked chord progression and a tight bombastic blast. As the wall of sound gives way to the main riff of the song, the drummer counts you in and you know you are about to get hurt some more. The cold, ruthless harshness of the vocals as they call on the muse to wake completes the circle, taking no breaks until the song ends in a distorted dirge. The dynamics at show in the first song are a constant theme throughout the album, with neckbreaking blast beats, melodic yet thick and heavy riffs, creative drum fills, and the vocals which sound as if a demon is calling you from the bottom of a well. After they've pummeled you with 16th and 32nd note mayhem on 'Muse', 'Submerged', and 'Deserted Denial', Morkera takes time to further build the album's atmosphere on 'Silent Gatherers', with dissonant riffage and tasty drum fills. The end of the song is marked by a dark synth and glitchy samples before sending you back into chaos with 'Conjuring Shades' and 'Overseer'. The penultimate track, 'Indigenes Formed In Tombs', is an instrumental with more arpeggiated dissonant chords, even more sorcery on the drum kit, and a thick bass tone holding down the sound space. It ends abruptly and unapologetically, leaving you feeling hollow and begging for more. Which you do get, but not in a way you might expect. The closer, 'Heaps Of Rubble', is a piano composition. However, this piano sounds like it is sitting at the bottom of a slow river carrying you downstream as you fade, and the chords and melodies played make the hairs on my arm stand every time I hear it. It justifies its name as there is nothing left for you here but a pile of rubble and a cloud of smoke.
The performances on the album are perfect but do not feel robotic. They have an organic feel to them, almost like the band is recording a rehearsal, despite the drummer being a session musician (he's on YouTube, look up piercewilliamsdrums) and the rest (probably) done by one guy in Croatia. The mixing is dense and filthy but with all instruments clearly intelligible, and gives you the sensation of choking on thick smoke and dust. One of the main highlights is the drumming, with lightning fast fills, double bass patterns, and precise yet chaotic blast beats. However, what ties it all together for me are the vocals which somehow manage to be some of the most demonic and harsh I've heard while simultaneously being clear in their lyrical delivery.
As I write this, there are already whispers of a follow-up to this stellar debut which set the bar quite high, while leaving themselves room to grow. I have no doubt the band will keep performances at or higher than the level displayed on Entangled Excavations, and am very much looking forward to hearing more of the dark and dissonant riffs, even more versatility on the songwriting front, as well as losing myself in the sophomore's atmosphere the way I did this one.
Rating: 9 out of 10776