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Review: Morgion - Cloaked By Ages, Crowned In Earth
Cloaked By Ages, Crowned In Earth

Label: Dark Symphonies
Year released: 2004
Duration: 61:26
Tracks: 8
Genre: Doom Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: May 8, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Cloaked By Ages, Crowned In Earth

Rated 4.1/5 (82%) (10 Votes)

Morgion have been around for a long time now, toiling in the US Doom scene since about 1990 or so. I had never really heard anything to get me interested in this band, but with Dark Symphonies proudly hyping this release, I was intrigued enough to check it out. While waiting for the release date to arrive, lo a promo comes my way. Funny how things are, eh? This is the third full-length album for Morgion, coming after a long hiatus and a near-breakup of the whole band. Obviously intended as a magisterial, definitive release to signal the band's rebirth, "Cloaked By Ages…" does a pretty damned good job of it.

I have not heard Morgion's previous releases, but I'm willing to bet this is even less accessible or commercial than the band's lauded "Solinari" album. "Cloaked By Ages, Crowned In Earth" (a poetical way of saying 'dead and buried') is definitely not mainstream, not even by the standards of Doom, which is about as un-mainstream a genre as you get. I was expecting this to be more heavy in the vein of Runemagick, but this is a bit less straight doom and more melancholy and melodic. Morgion alternate between the heavy, crushing riffs with the deathgrowls and moody acoustic passages with quite good clean singing. I would say the ratio is probably 75/25 in favor of the melodic, moody parts, which makes this an atypically mellow doom CD. Usually doom is more sludgy than pensive, but this album is not the solid heavy attack you would expect. What it is, is really, really good. There is nothing catchy or accessible about this music, but it remains spellbinding nonetheless. A slow, moody album like this succeeds or fails on its ability to get you to partake of the mood and go with it, and this album does that magnificently. By the end of the first spin I didn't care that it wasn't what I expected, I just wanted more. I can completely see why Dark Symphonies signed this band, as this has more than a little in common with DS bands like Autumn Tears or Rain Fell Within, or even While Heaven Wept (who aren't a DS band but could have been.)

The package is very nice looking, if minimal. There are no lyrics contained, but rather a short paragraph about the concept of the album. It's pretty neat too. It's like a standard barbarian fantasy story told as aftermath. The three guys who dig up the all-powerful swords that make them immortal, and the ultimate, sad fate of each: dead yet conscious, each lamenting their fall. Very melancholy and epic, yet cool and understated as well. The production is actually a little muted, and I would have liked a fuller recording job, as you have to turn this waaaaaaay up to get the full, encompassing effect. There is also an odd space waster at the end of the last track. About 8 minutes in the song ends, then you get about 4 minutes of silence, and then another 3 minutes of very low-key music. I just wonder why they bothered.

If I have one gripe with this CD, it's that the last song just kind of peters out, ending the album on a whisper, not a thunderbolt. It fits in with the whole theme, but I really think you need a strong closer after such great songs as "Cairn" and "The Mourner's Oak". But this album can't be taken song by song, it has to be listened to as a whole, and the whole is seriously awesome: moody, inventive, iconoclastic and affecting. Morgion have made a sweeping, involving album of melancholic music that goes far beyond the usual confines of Doom Metal. Any fan of emotional, atmospheric metal should give this album a try, as I'll wager "Cloaked By Ages, Crowned In Earth" will draw you into its spell.

Other related information on the site
Review: Solinari (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Drummer/Lyricist Rhett Davis on June 3, 2004 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Rhett Davis on July 23, 2003 (Interviewed by Barbara Williams (Crowley))
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