By this point in history, it’s fair to describe Black Metal as a mature genre. It’s been through multiple generations, developed, diversified, and reached genuinely amazing heights of sophistication and subtlety. It may have started out as something nasty lurking in the metal scene’s basement, but by now there are times when it’s practically high art.


Let’s just say that is not one of those times. Back to the basement we go with Poland’s Morbid Execution, a side-project of two of Throneum’s members – who apparently have both had their fingers in their ears since the end of the eighties if Vulgar Destruction is anything to go by. This is a broadside barrage of truly old-school black/death metal with no pretensions whatsoever, executed well and with style; the musicianship is competent, the songwriting is solid, and with the album clocking in at a mere half hour it resists any temptation to outstay its welcome. As for the sound itself, I’m favourably reminded of early (as in really early) Mayhem, in the sense that they’re clearly drawing from all the same eighties sources; and there are a couple of even older influences in there, too. I swear “Wizards of Silesia” got its hook straight from Black Sabbath, and there’s an unexpected but awesome, almost punk-rock slide in the main riff to “Dreadful Romance” that adds a dash of originality.


One of the best things about Morbid Execution, though, is that they’re not afraid to slow down. While their default tempo is mid-to-fast, they intermittently throttle back to a crushing, doomy slow groove that really works with their old-school bass-heavy sound. Indeed the bass here is a major part of the songwriting overall, which I always love to hear; and it’s only a shame, given this, that the guitar and bass are using very similar sound setups as it would have been nice to hear both hold their own all the time, instead of intermittently getting lost under each other.


In fact if this album has a weakness to my ears, it’s that the production isn’t quite sadistic enough in general. This is the kind of music that’s supposed to hurt when it hits you; but while the riffs themselves connect like a hammer to the back of your skull, somehow the sound has been damped enough to put more padding in the way of the impact than I’d really like. This is a very minor gripe, though, so not enough to stop me giving this album the solidly positive rating it deserves. [8/10 – KIT RATHENAR]