Blackened deathgrind. I know ‘blackened’ has been used to death but in all seriousness one listen to this North/South Carolinian trio’s debut EP, Forage the Ash, and it just feels sooooo right. Morgue Walker nail that part but also make good on their namesake by actually sounding like they recorded this thing inside a morgue adjacent to a coffin awaiting the hearse. If you took that as a knock, it only slightly is. And by slight I mean miniscule. Anyway, this is blackened deathgrind and it is vicious.
Let’s take the negative first which is only a small thing really. There’s a coffinesque death metal hum that underpins these tracks and a seriously jaded yet violently explosive force of grindcore lying somewhere in the back of the grave. It’s there but it’s deep and at times sounds like a solid wall of incoherent noise. All the while, Justin Vølus’ vocals sound like black metal shrieks during a pig torture session ready to physically harm the earholes of any and all comers. In other words, it’s hard to really hear and take in all that’s happening beyond the crisp vocals. So maybe a little better production next time out?
Moving on, that’s my only sticking point with this EP and it’s a small one in the scheme of things since over the course of several spins, this solid wall of noise lends a nasty hand to Forage the Ash as a whole. Weird how that happens but blissful when it does. And when it clicks, it detonates. As in blow the whole damn mausoleum to bits and pieces. With a bit of Swedeath punk on “Save Yourself, Kill Them All” and some Gadget inspired grind on the title track, Morgue Walker has more than a few tricks up their sleeve. Case in point: the death knell of slow, methodical doom on “Ghoul Cathedral.” Lower the dead slowly and watch them rot or something like that – anyway, you get the point. The true star here though is closer “Observer” where the previously mentioned vocal delivery perfectly balances black and death while the rest of the band can finally be heard loud and clear. And this, of course, makes the black / grind / death surrounding Forage the Ash kick like a mule and bite harder than a zombie.
If two thirds of the band weren’t covered in an impenetrable layer of aspirated bodily fluids for two thirds of the runtime, Forage the Ash would be a knockout blow. But as it stands, it still shows serious signs of a band not afraid to get their hands dirty and transfer that dirt onto the listener. Morgue Walker have put together a vile debut EP and with some minor tweaks in sound they definitely have the talent to come back with their axes sharpened and ready for blood. Highly recommended for those that love lo-fi torture at high speed.