Thursday, 16 June 2011

Morgue - American forgotten death metal legend

This band is one of the greatest discoveries that I did in 2009; a band that I haven’t heard about at all before I got their CD and it just blew my head off. Excellent music this American death metal horde played was a real surprise and another proof that there are still many jewels from the early 90’s scene ready yet to be discovered. It happened that at the same time I discovered three great old bands from early 90's – GUTTED, BURIAL (Dutch) and this one, MORGUE – well, another unfortunate choice for the moniker (just like BURIAL) as there were maaaany other MORGUEs on the scene back then.
At first I wanted to look for some info about the band and it was quite difficult I have to say, luckily the old band members, or some of them – like Brad Buldak – still keep the death metal flame alive and the memory about their cult band is kept thanks to their myspace website and some interviews I’ve found.

MORGUE belonged to the great Chicago scene – which included such hordes as BURNT OFFERING, MACABRE, CIANIDE, MASTER, ABHORRENCE, DEATH STRIKE, BROKEN HOPE. MORGUE was spawned in November 1990 by the members of local groups called SUBLIMINAL SLAUGHTER and CREMATORIUM. The aim was simple – to play something more complex, faster, brutal, nasty and deadly. Ted Vantilburg (drums, ex SUBLIMINAL SLAUGHTER), Brad Buldak (bass / vocals, ex CREMATORIUM) and two guitarists: Darrel Moore and Tom Theres (both ex CREMATORIUM) formed the first line up and taking influences from such cult acts as AUTOPSY, PESTILENCE, DEATH, ASPHYX and IMMOLATION they started an intense rehearsing process, which results in first recording efforts: two track rehearsal recording from February 1991 and more professionally made two songs recorded in March 1991 by good friend of the band, Scott Carroll from CIANIDE. Both were released together on a tape under the title “Random Decay”.

MORGUE played numerous shows and soon gets ready for another demo, which was titled “Severe Psychopathology” and was recorded in January 1992. Better production, more aggressive and tight songs; and again great lyrics that deal with murders, gore and such sick stuff… in other words this was just a definite step forward for the band; although only two songs were new, as MORGUE decided to re-record all three tracks that were on their debut demo. Meanwhile, after the session, Ryan Jerzak joins on a guitar, replacing Tom Theres. With that line up MORGUE begins their works on the debut LP, for which they contracted with GRIND CORE Records. The recording session has taken place at SOLID SOUND Studio.

The album titled “Eroded Thoughts” contained seven songs, but only two were new; MORGUE again decided to re-record all their demo songs. While Brad Buldak found a cool picture in a local gallery and talked to the artist for using it on the album for the front cover – which they did in the end. During the recording session MORGUE also changed the drummer, so Ted van Tilburg played on four tracks while his replacement, Nick Sebock, recorded another three songs. Later he left the band and played also in CIANIDE and DYING FETUS, while Brian Steam (also EPITAPH) replaced him in MORGUE. Also Jamie Sminch replaced Dennis Moore on guitar. Anyway, the album was out and that was great thing as the band was really great at what they’ve been doing. They got a chance to be an opening act on the famous American AUTOPSY / INCANTATION / VITAL REMAINS tour was a real highlight in their short career; something that was proving the quality and potential of MORGUE. The band also played other shows, with such acts like DISINCARNATE, CANCER, CIANIDE…

Unfortunately the band went through many problems then… Line up changes weren’t helping, as well as problems with the label. Musicians started to explore more technical music, so soon everything felt apart, leading to a split up. It’s worth saying that years after MORGUE died, its members (or most of them) have kept their interest in metal music, Brad Buldak especially… they even played in some small local bands. Supposedly they even discussed doing a reunion one-time gig. But the greatest thing that happened was band called ABSCONDER! The band was formed at the end of 2009 and the lineup is Mark Baldwin - guitar, Josh Avila - drums, Matt Filippo - guitar and Brad Buldak - bass / vocals. They all started to play cult, old school death metal in brilliant way, and the debut a demo was recorded in 2011, including five songs.

I'm yet to listen to ABSCONDER whole demo, but the appetiser from myspace is more than promosing. I let you know soon what I think about them. But MORGUE... well, this band is a must to listen to, they had fantastic album, shamelessly underrated. CD is quite hard to get nowadays, I was lucky to buy ot on Ebay one day, but the cool news is that THE CRYPT Productions is planning to release it on VINYL!!!!!!!!!! FUCK YES. Knowing the great work they do with the releases, it will be a shredder, especially that the LP will include also demos... and probably cool layout as always. I'm looking forward to buy it.

MORGUE - Random Decay (demo 1991)

I must say I didn't know MORGUE demos for long time. When I bought band's debut CD "Eroded Thoughts" I absolutely loved it and MORGUE quickly became my one of personal favourites as we speak about the old school American death metal bands (they and GUTTED are both my favourite death metal acts from USA, no bullshit!). So I was looking for two demo tapes of MORGUE for quite some time, but couldn't find them anywhere and finally one day I’ve managed to! What a bloody joy, I’m telling you – even if it’s just a copied version, not the original tape! Of course it is difficult to judge the demos if you know the album so well... Especially if both demo tapes include all the songs from “Eroded Thoughts” and all these tracks sound just perfect on the album – which I hope someone will release on vinyl one day! Will the demo versions of these deathly anthems satisfy my hunger for good old school death metal and won’t disappoint my high expectations? Luckily when I’ve played “Random Decay” demo for the first time I got exactly what I expected from MORGUE – read: DAMN STRONG DEATH METAL!!! The debut demo that they did in 1991 is divided into two parts and two different recording sessions. Both have very raw and almost primitive demo sound, but that harsh production gives these songs a lot of underground feeling. Each part has two songs and each is a rehearsal recording, only the difference is that the first one, recorded by Scott from CIANIDE has better production, while the February 1991 recording is very, very raw (but better than many other average rehearsal materials he, he). And the songs… Well, I know them so well that I can almost play every riff! These demo versions don’t differ much – if at all – with their album versions… There are the same ideas, the same riffs, tempos, breaks, vocal parts. It may surprise that MORGUE hasn’t changed much in these songs in next two years prior to recording of “Eroded Thoughts”, but from the second hand to me these are complete tracks; great riffing, wonderful death metal with a slight thrashing touch and played in quite European way. Very ASPHYX-esque “Random Decay” song with its slow, massive riffs and aggressive, much faster “Coroner’s Report” are absolutely classics! To my opinion the strongest aspect of MORGUE music is its catchiness. You’ll get to know these songs quickly and each riff will become your favourite as the band really managed to bring only quality, memorable parts, no fill ups or bullshit here. Arrghh, no more to say. Listen to MORGUE and die!
Best song: “Coroner’s Report”
Final rate: 70 / 100

MORGUE - Severe Psychopathology (demo 1992)
And finally here is the second MORGUE demo… This is the last piece of the puzzles of history of this American band – piece I tried to find for last few months and which I really wanted to get as I loved MORGUE since the very first time I’ve listened to their “Eroded Thoughts” album. And of course “Severe Psychopathology” doesn’t disappoint; even though the demo contains only the songs which I know so well, as all of them have been recorded also on “Eroded Thoughts” album. Hmm, of course it would be nice to get also some other tracks, but who cares, it doesn’t disturb me at all, especially that these early versions of MORGUE classics sound much rawer on this demo than the more polished and professional sound of “Eroded Thoughts”. The primitive (but not weak!) production of “Severe Psychopathology” almost makes the demo sound chaotic in few parts, but the feeling is there and so is the influence of AUTOPSY ha, ha. The demo contains five tracks and all together they make a more than just decent material. This is really strong death metal, full of great and brutal parts, composed by really fantastic riffs and so well arranged that it almost surprises me that MORGUE was just a demo band at that time. These guys knew well what they’ve been doing and had a talent. It almost seems like it was very easy for them to get these songs ready, surely with the help of Satan himself. Some of these songs seem to be played a little differently; I have the feeling that MORGUE has changed later on their full length some of these arrangements, especially in the song “Personality Conflict”. But maybe it’s just a feeling? All in all, this song sounds really great; just listen to that fantastic guitar solo in it!  And to some point it is my favourite part of the entire demo, as its slow paced, massive riffing has a lot of aggression and powerful sound. Eh, this is probably in my top 10 of American death metal demos. Awesome.
Best song: “Personality Conflict”
Final rate: 80 / 100

MORGUE - Eroder Thoughts (CD 1993)
I wonder how many of you do know this American band? I guess not as many as I would hope, but if you ever have a chance, please get this album... I know there were many bands called MORGUE, but this one is absolutely fantastic and to my honest opinion it's one of the best and along with GUTTED and KILLING ADDICTION they're most underestimated US death metal band in the history of this music. What makes me think like that about MORGUE then? Well, "Eroded Thoghts" simply fits brilliantly to my musical taste. I’ve loved this album straight away, from my first listening of it. The band delivers here totally classic death metal effort in the old school vein, taking the influences from the American scene mostly and such acts as POSSESSED, AUTOPSY, but also gazing into some European hordes, ASPHYX especially, but also GOREFEST from their debut album and THANATOS. Isn't that enough to make my blood boil? It is damn close, I can tell you! And so “Eroded Thoughts” starts with “Coroner’s Report”, really aggressive and fast opener, which is followed by much slower and heavy as fuck “Random Decay”, which easily could be yet another ASPHYX anthem. I can truly consider this Dutch band to be MORGUE’s biggest influence along with AUTOPSY really. Then “Repulsive Death” is faster again, while “Plagued Birth” comes with some melodic riffs and even slightly more complex structures; some of its fragments are quite surprising and differ a lot from the straight forward approach of the previous tracks. I managed to find out that this song, together with the title track - are the only new songs on that album – the rest are old tracks from the demos. It seems then that MORGUE started to evolve a bit at that time into more complex, technical playing. Great, but I prefer their older, more brutal songs like “Severe Psychopathology” and “Personality Conflict” – but these two also have some surprises, the first one especially as it has a long guitar solo part. If someone dare to say that MORGUE presents fresh and original look on the genre he would lie, because they don’t. Their death metal is very traditional and hardly innovative. But to me it’s enough if it's really well played, the sound is just great, all songs are catchy and powerful and the feeling is there! And most importantly MORGUE has the riffs! Yes, they have great, classic death metal riffs in the vein of the best bands in this old school genre. The album was recorded almost 20 years ago, costs a fortune, but I'm 100% happy having it and listening to it frequently. I just can't get tired of "Eroded Thoughts" and that says a lot - it's highly underestimated, forgotten jewel. Definitely it’s an album worth checking out.
Lyrics: All lyrics were written by Brad Buldak. I really like the first one, “Coroner’s Report”, which tells about the feelings of the coroner, who’s “making incisions from temple to temple, to revel what's left of the brain… think of what this man's been through and of his unending pain…”. He’s proceeding this autopsy, taking pleasure from it, but at the same time he also is afraid of dying and himself becoming a subject of coroner’s job (“As my scalpel cuts away I fear of this becoming me someday…”). That great “Random Decay” track is about cancer and the effect it has on human (“This morbid disease has destroyed nations, malignant tumours forming without knowledge as the silent killer cancer takes another… A suffering, unstoppable disease, causing pain and grief, tearing apart families - It's random decay”). “Repulsive Death” is about the sicko from New York, who dismembered his girlfriend and then boiled her body parts to separate the bones from the flesh. At the end he flushed her flesh in the toilet. Really gory lyric, but cool I have to say (“Beaten, stabbed, slowly dismembered, crushing life under there's nothing to remember. Boil to separate bone from flesh; Unholy repulsive way of death…”). But this is the only such gory lyric, as the next one, for ”Plagued Birth”, deals with a problem of alcoholism among pregnant women: “Drinking while pregnant, for idiotic fun. When the child is born you'll see what you have done… Alcohol enters foetus, deformities begin. Complicated pregnancy, plagued birth…”. “Severe Psychopathology” and “Personality Conflict” both are more psychological lyrics, they deal with the theory of Freud of how the man goes insane and is also about split personalities. Finally the title song is about Alzheimer’s disease: “Forgotten names and faces, the first steps towards the end. For what is life not knowing who you are, yet as age sets in this all becomes reality… What will tomorrow bring I will not remember today. As I live, I know no past, Alzheimers takes its toll at last…”
Best song: “Random Decay”
Final rate: 90 / 100


  1. Great write up dude.
    Eroded Thoughts was the very firs cd I ever bought(was around '93), only bought tapes and vinyls before that. I had never heard of em but looked at the shirts they were wearing a took a risk. So glad I did. Still one of my favourite cd's of all time and still gets a regular spin. I managed to get hold of the Severe Psycopathology demo a couple of years ago, that's awesome too but I had no idea about the Random Decay demo(now I gotta hunt that down too, thanks, grrr lol)
    Also used to have the Eroded Thought longsleeve and the Eroded Thoughts Tour longsleeve but very unfortunately disappeared many years ago :(

  2. And YES, a vinyl release would be sooooo cooooool after all these years \m/

  3. Yeah, time flies by and still no sign of the LP release from The Crypt.. if they won't do it then I will get some money an do it myself :)