|After a 5 year waiting period Morgion finally released their follow-up to 'Solinari'. In the meantime the band has seen both line-up changes, as well as a change of record label from Relapse to Dark Symphonies. Initial response by the fans seemed to vary. I have heard stories of fans disappointed due to the more mellow nature of this album, while others hailed it as a master-piece. As is usual in such circumstances, I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle.|
'Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth' actually starts out pretty much as an expected follow-up to 'Solinari'. However, as the album progresses and the tracks pass by one by one, the album’s overall tone mellows even more. Acoustic guitars play a much more important role, as do the clean vocals. Some tracks still feature powerful grunts, but they are clearly outnumbered by clean, actually sung, vocals. I guess in part this has to do with previous vocalist Jeremy Peto having left the band and guitarist Dwayne Boardman now having taken on the vocal duties together with Gary Griffith. And the vocals are more then excellent to say the least but I must admit I do sometimes miss the death-grunt a little.
While the album has become more mellow, it is still clearly Morgion. There is no doubt about that at all. Every note and every string breathes the Morgion atmosphere as found on previous releases. And atmosphere has always been Morgion's ace up their collective sleeve. The multiple musical layers are something you will only be able to fully discover after multiple listening sessions. There are few bands around, be it within the doom-metal genre or otherwise, who are able to create such a mysterious, sullen atmosphere. In the past I have referred to them as the druids of Doom-metal and I think this title holds true more then ever now.
'Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth' represents Morgion truly coming of age and is their most mature album to date. The band has not forgotten its roots or abandoned its sound; rather, they have refined it. It for sure is one of the most excellent albums released in 2004. Soft and gentle, yet also still strong and powerful, but most of all an album of living and breathing doomed atmosphere.
However good I find this album, every silver lining has its dark-cloud. In Morgion's case it's that nagging feeling sometimes that I just want them to push it that little bit further, stop acting like grownups for only one or two minutes and just give the music that extra kick, that extra jolt of power. Each individual song is brilliant and will not cause this craving for a power-boost, but listening to the entire album sometimes does make you wish they would break out of their more mellow constrains. It's not a big problem, as the album is excellent and exceptionally enjoyable, but I do think Morgion are slowly starting to balance on that edge of over-production and over-fine-tuning. Luckily on 'Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth' they are still on the right side of that edge. The fire and power are still there. So for now perhaps it remains just an uneasy feeling I have and nothing more.
To conclude, 'Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth' offers some of the most exceptional Doom-metal recorded in recent years. I also firmly believe this album has the potential to become a classic within a few years time. Morgion still manage to offer something unique within the genre and proof without a doubt that when it comes to creating a mysterious, shrouded in mist atmosphere they are the masters. If you let it, 'Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth' will wrap around you and you'll emerge fully within it, gently floating upon the music. Morgion's best effort to date.
1. Cloaked by Ages
2. A Slow Succumbing
3. Ebb Tide (parts I & II)
4. Trillium Rune
5. The Mourner's Oak
7. She, the Master Covets
8. Crowned in Earth
Duration : Approx. 61 minutes
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