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December Moon (1987)

Even though the band is long history already, Sweden's Morbid established themselves more and more over the years as a cult act with only one official demo, December Moon, released in 1987. Part of the reason most certainly is the fact that their vocalist at the time was none other than Per Yngve Ohlin (better known as Dead), who quickly became an icon as a member of Norway's Mayhem and even more after he committed suicide in 1991. What a lot of people seem to forget is that Morbid featured other members, such as Lars Goran "LG" Petrov and Ulf "Uffe" Cederlund of Nihilist/Entombed fame. However, Dead was was one the founding members, starting the band with a guy called Slator back in 1986. The band members were into Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate and Bathory, in those days. Dead named the band, presumably, after the Morbid Tales E.P. Dead wrote the dismal and obscure lyrics while John Lennart, Klacke and TG wrote the songs.

Morbid only recorded one official demo. They saw that other bands sold their demos at a record store in Stockholm so they thought why shouldn't they do that as well. Sandro from the band Mefisto introduced them to the guys in Heavy Load who had a studio and they gave them a good deal. The whole thing took about 16 hours. They just let the studio guy control most everything really. Afterward, they didn't really send out the tape so much. It seems like this recording grew when Dead died, which is sad as it is a very good recording.

Like many others, I first heard of this band due to Dead's involvement in Mayhem and I was finally able to hear these songs when I got the bootleg A Tribute to the Black Emperors. Originally, I was seeking the two studio tracks that Dead recorded with Mayhem, but I was soon blown away by the first four songs, taken from Morbid's December Moon demo.

"My Dark Subconscious" begins with Dead saying something in Swedish, making reference to a kids' show that featured monsters, of all things. The guitars fade in from the darkness and unleash very grim-sounding thrash riffs. This is very primitive and Dead's vocals truly embody the band's name; Morbid. This possesses more of a Black Metal atmosphere, mostly due to the production and the vocals, but the band themselves didn't really consider themselves Black or Death Metal, specifically. The riffs are mostly thrash, with some excellent lead solos thrown in as well.

"Winds of Funeral" starts with demonic death screams taken from "The Evil Dead", leading into an acoustic intro that then gives way to sinister thrash riffs. The vocals are done in sort of a hoarse whisper, sounding like a zombie that crawled out of a grave, half-rotten. Dead's performance is truly ghoulish and morbid, perhaps taking some influence from Quorthon. The bass and drums are done in kind of a subtle way, leaving the guitars to dominate this recording, much as it should be. The closing riffs of the song are much more Death Metal than Thrash, finishing with a nice solo.

Doom riffs, reminiscent of Candlemass, introduce "From the Dark". For a band that existed for only a short period of time, Morbid really showed a lot of promise. Had they remained together, there is no telling how much they could have accomplished, though they may have been a few years ahead of their time. This song features a mixture of thrash and doom riffs, creating an unexpectedly complex and epic atmosphere. Halfway through, there is a very slow section that features only an eerie acoustic guitar and Dead's desperate moaning, in the distance. There is a great variety in tempo and the demonic vocal effects, near the end, are well done.

"Disgusting Semla" erupts at full speed. Dead's vocals hiss over shredding guitar riffs. Everything builds to a climax where the solos rage back and forth like poisonous serpents and the song becomes mid-paced. Dead clearly loses his fucking mind with the twisted sounds emitted near the end. It soon becomes a chorus of complete insanity and no other word can accurately describe this. Upon first listen, it seems ridiculous, yet it really works for the song. As December Moon concludes, one gets the feeling that they just got a glimpse into the long forgotten past at what could have been... what should have been. Some time later, an integral member left the band and Morbid fell apart. Dead soon left Sweden for Norway and the rest is history...
(20 Mar. 2009)

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