Album Review: Morta Skuld – Creation Undone

Album Review: Morta Skuld - Creation Undone
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Morta Skuld are undergoing something of a resurgence lately. Formed way back in 1990 out of Wisconsin, United States, the band’s first major breakthrough was with their classic if not underrated debut full length piece: Dying Remains. The band enjoyed three more full length releases, however the Morta Skuld steam ran dry and the band disbanded by 1998. Cut to 2012, and the band roars back into life releasing an EP, in 2014, titled Serving Two Masters. Following their comeback 2017 record, Wounds Deeper Than Time, the band have enjoyed a prosperous return, releasing their acclaimed 2020 record, Suffer For Nothing, which became a favourite of mine of their discography. Now, four years on and carrying on their partnership with Peaceville Records for the third time running, Morta Skuld give us their first album release in four years come February 23rd. When I saw Morta Skuld had a new album on the horizon, I was truly hyped for it. The band have been doing wonderfully lately and I was more than ready to dive in to their music once more.

If you thought Morta Skuld would allow you some reprieve as they get older then you’ll be disappointed; their soundscape herein is one that’s completely boxed in and doesn’t allow for a meagre hope of freedom. Whether you’re exclusively concentrating on the riffs or drums, vocals etc, their production encloses and keeps us penned in with no chance of escape. Granted, there is some room to move around and breathe, but not to the extent that we can dip in and out of Creation Undone. Once the record is underway there’s no hope for respite until we’ve reached the end; the only way out is through. What I also took away here is how the guitar tone is this cinderblock force that continuously pummels us with a blunt force edge; there’s little resonance applied to the riffs whereby the after effect of the played note layers the next piece, with this record the band have established a ruthless aesthetic that can’t be turned away from.

It won’t take long for us to notice the vocals either. Dave Gregor has been the vocal helmsman and frontman of Morta Skuld since the band’s earliest releases but, through this album, we really get an understanding for just how gruff and raw his delivery actually is. There’s no concept of melody or wavelength attached to his performance. When one listens to his vocal delivery, it’s constantly striking a solid wall of brick where nothing bounces off, immediately dissipating before the next volley of vocals are incoming. It’s possibly an age thing, noting the band’s early 90s origins but I believe it works within the context of their songwriting. Owing to the sledgehammer style of riffs and punching assault, a raw and unrefined vocal performance works hand in hand with Morta Skuld’s aesthetic here. There’s very little prettying up this record and therefore, it would have been a hindrance for the vocals to be anything other than what Gregor imparts here.

Album Review: Morta Skuld - Creation Undone

While the album is otherwise geared towards dropping a piano onto you from a great height, it’s nice to see the band utilised the drums to offer a more alleviating option. The bass drums, through furious and often moving flat out, don’t meld too strongly with the rest of the band’s instrumentation; often this would be a negative aspect but by demonstrating their songwriting possesses numerous layers, Morta Skuld give us more than one thing to focus on and appreciate. The riffs and vocals may be gunning for our faces at every given moment, but they don’t overpower the presence of the drums whatsoever. Bass drums come at us like distant thunder, imbuing the band with additional injections of power but they also infer a lighter category too with snare drums that bounce off soundly and with ease. If there’s any form of cushion to this album, it’s in the drums.

The guitar work, we’ve covered, is blunt and doesn’t care for your feelings. But, within that punching performance, the riffs have been given a definition to their sound that ensures they stand out without difficulty, even as the band fits on all cylinders without an ounce of mercy in sight. As a result, it gives us a rare look at riffs that may otherwise be swamped had other bands taken hold of this songwriting; the record effectively outlines every riff and segment of guitar playing in bold marker pen, outlining them with a three-dimensional shape and gifting them with a tangibility many death metal bands can’t attain. In doing so, it’s given Morta Skuld freedom to really cut loose and unleash some stellar riff sequences that separate them from the rank and file of extreme metal, even amongst those of their own generation. Morta Skuld have always enjoyed a dedicated cult following and it’s in their willingness to change up typical riff patterns, evident within Creation Undone, that belies it.

In conclusion, Morta Skuld return with an album that not only succeeds on where their last record left off from, but returns with, if anything, even more vitriol and bile. Creation Undone takes no prisoners and is absolutely uncaring for where you are and how you’re feeling; it’s here to punch you square in the face with every track that follows. The band are in the middle of a renaissance right now, and it’s through records the likes of which Creation Undone will be joining that are the reason why. Morta Skuld never broke through to the big time in their earliest years but, through this release, they’re more than capable of sitting down the new guard and take them back to school. It’s a ferocious album that aims at every minute to beat you firmly into the earth, only to have you crawl back begging for another round. If you’re after a death metal record that doesn’t pull its punches then Creation Undone is more than worth looking into. Exemplary.

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