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Final Breath Records
How much creativity can be squeezed out of two musicians trying to
put together an ambitious goth metal project? The question has been a
constant one ever since Garden Grove's Morphine Killer came together in
2007. Eski, damn near a one man band onto himself, joined forces with
Belle Rocka, a singer who also plays keyboards. Two years later they
began putting out EPs, the first of which I picked up for free on the
flier rack at Bionic Records in Cypress by chance. Immediately playing
the CD on my drive home, Eski's gritty guitar riffs and Belle Rocka's
sonorous vocals made me take notice.
Now Morphine Killer is well poised to do that with others on a larger scale with the release of the debut full-length album Sickening
last week. The new collection of nine songs recorded at the home studio
of the band illustrates how the metal duo has matured musically since
the time of their initial EPs. “Another Day in the Flames” is a barn
burning first track tone setter with Eski taking to the vocals
alternating between death growls and whispers. The big metal riffs are
bone crunching throughout before the musician takes to another form of
alternation towards the end of the song. A musical dialogue between his
bass and guitar arrangements transforms into a classic build-up where
the double bass drum hits unleash the gates of goth metal hell.
Belle Rocka equally elevates her talents on the new album.
“Sacrilegious Celebration” sees her seamlessly switch between her
straight forward style of singing, tortured whispers and impressive
death growls of her own. She even is afforded the opportunity to
serenade on a ballad when the nine-track metal assault comes to a
screeching halt in the middle of it all on “It's Too Late.” The song,
well suited to highlight her vocal talents, thrusts into heavy distorted
riffs, if only for a short section, before returning back to its
acoustic base and slowly fading into the end.
When Belle Rocks dominates the vocal duties on Sickening,
especially the previously released depression anthem “Throw it All
Away,” Morphine Killer can't help but remind listeners of the dynamics
employed by Evanescence, only they utilize them properly and don't make
horrible music! For his part, Eski is quite competent in holding down
the rest of the album's furious growlers such as the steady paced “An
Air of Disrespect.” And just as you've think you've figured them out,
the local metal band ends their self-produced debut with the
instrumental “New Industry.” Neither Eski nor Belle Rocka take to the
microphone, but they still mash out a worthy headbanger anyway.
Returning to the question that started off this local record review;
how creative can two musicians get on nine metal songs? Plenty, when the
duo is dynamic as evidenced by the release of Sickening, an album, that despite its title, leaves listeners with a good feeling.