If I had to find the most accurate metaphor to locate Morne in the grand crust narrative, one that profoundly resonates with my personal mythology, I would say that Morne were the Ahmed Johnson of the genre. When Ahmed, out of nowhere, ran to the ring and slammed Yokozuna in 1995, I was just like the crowd: flabbergasted. This powerful and, I daresay, legendary slam left me in awe and, as a 12 year-old, confirmed that I wanted to be a wrestler when I grew up. Sadly, reality struck me in the face, and with a physique reminiscent of Harry Potter in the early movies, wrestling quickly became a fantasy that would never come true and my dreams were shattered. My size could have allowed me to become a referee but, as they are often clownishly mistreated, this would have only added to the humiliation. But back to Morne. Just as unexpected as Ahmed's incredible feat of lifting Yoko, the band, it appeared to me, also pretty much slammed crust out of nowhere when I first came across their demo in 2008.
Now, I realize it is not the first time I have expressed memories of genuine feelings of surprise throughout How Crust Survived the Millennium Bug. Indisputably, the Χειμερία Νάρκη's 2003 album shook me hard and rocked my tiny world. However, this took place in 2003 and, in the subsequent five years, I became a rabid listener and devout follower of crust music and, as patches steadily grew on my sleeveless jackets, I slowly turned into an amateur archaeologist of the genre, reading everything I could find on the subject and saving whatever I could from my meager income to buy crust records (blogs only really kicked off around 2008/09 and the fast and unlimited streaming of music sounded as unlikely as a reality TV star becoming the president of the US of A). I may have been cocky enough at some point in the late 00's to claim boastfully that I had mastered the truth of crust - if the internet never forgets, fortunately people do - but a couple of meaningful revelations taught me (some) humility and that, not only was the quest only just beginning, but that the most important and most fulfilling element of it was the continuous process of realizing your objective, the path of knowledge rather than its completion. If you listen carefully, that's pretty much Yoda's message especially since the Force and the Crust are kinda equivalent at the end of the day. So basically when Morne noisily crashed into my youthful certainties, my knowledgeability of crust was much more solid than it had been five years before. Still, this demo absolutely kicked me up the arse and, well, it was a wonderful feeling which does not happen that often these days. Bloody inspiring, mate.
Let's get rid of the elephant in the room right away: Morne is fronted by Milosz, former member of Gdansk-based crust legends Filth of Mankind, who moved to the States in the mid-00's (I guess?). I have no qualms about claiming, loudly as a former post shows, that FOM were one of the best old-school crust bands of their era and the absence of their magnus opus The Final Chapter in this series only has to do with my will not to be (too) redundant but it rightfully deserves a comfy spot in the top crust albums of the noughties. When I learnt about the connection between both bands, Morne's masterly first effort made sense. That this brilliant recording could be categorized as a demo felt a little insulting, as much as I instantly loved it. There was none of the sloppy playing, approximate tuning, non-existent production and naive songwriting that the term "demo" implied to me. Recorded in November, 2007 and March, 2008 at Dead Air Studio by Will Killingsworth, the Morne demo sounded like an incredibly brilliant album rather than a demo tape, which it originally was in 2008 (a cd version also existed). Although the production can be said to be a little raw and dirty - a better description in the context would be organic and cavernous - as opposed to a cleaner sound that the band may have craved for (subsequent events seem to point that way so that intention is of prime importance), I personally believe that it sounds absolutely perfect for a crust album: raw, dark, heavy, brooding and gritty. If the demo of my former band in the noughties had sounded even half as good - inspired and tasteful were not even options - as Morne's demo, I would have been a most unbearably conceited lad to say the least.
The dominant pace is of the brooding and mid-tempo variety and parallels between Morne's early stage and the heavy doomsday dirges of Axegrinder and Misery, with a torturous Neurosis twist, are relevant. Morne's progressive narrative side also made me think of Skaven's (though they told a very different story) and especially of Balance of Pain-era Counterblast, who were brilliant at playing with moods and ambiance while remaining mean and crushing and proved to be able to speed things up when apposite. The vocals are clever, not forceful or savage, but shouted naturally with a gruff undertone, a bit like Axegrinder, crusty but not growling. Finally, and it certainly contributed to me being so starry-eyed about this recording, Morne were a synth-driven old-school crust band, unfortunately, tragically even, a phrase I cannot write nowhere near often enough. I have always been of the opinion that the addition of a synth transcends the epic gloom that is at the heart of proper crust and Morne used it with dashing maestria. I cannot help but being reminded of the classic Greek crust sound epitomized by early 90's Χαοτικό Τέλος, and quite obviously of Monolith-era Amebix and Axegrinder's Rise of the Serpent Men, and even - perhaps it sounds a bit bold but I am a man who loves danger and I've had more than my fair share of near death experiences, notably when playing badminton - of early Acrostix, and them more than the others maybe. The song "Twilight burns" makes me want to wear cool shades and ride a bike into the sunset, no mean feat considering I tend to be nauseous on motorbikes (anything that has a motor really).
Have really, really enjoyed this series - thanks very much! Few new discoveries and a couple of new albums bought as well. You mention Filth Of Mankind would be in your top crust albums of the noughties (totally agree) and wondered out of interest if you'd ever made a list? I mean I'm sure you have but would be really interested to see it if you're up for posting it. Cheers againReplyDelete
Hello there. Thanks for your kind words. It was a fun and interesting series to compile to be honest as the 00's were a decade of intense discovery for me.Delete
As for a ranking or list of the best crust records, it is too difficult a task. FOM's "Final chapter" of course, Extinction of Mankind's "Northern scum" without a doubt, the early Hellshock material, the Stormcrow/Sanctum split Lp, the Acrostix/Contrast Attitude... There are quite a few of them but I would have to think long and hard about it in order to be exhaustive!