You know, I’ve always held a special place for these fucked up Norwegians in my heart. Even though they’ve been around for what seems like forever they never resorted to the ambient-isms of mid-era BURZUM, the progressively keyboard-laden operatics of EMPEROR, or the aural blitzkrieg of GORGOROTH to get their point across. Yes, I absolutely LOVE the disparate modus operandi bands I just mentioned, but there are times when CARPATHIAN FOREST’s relatively simplistic Black’n Thrash (don’t call it Black ‘n Roll, for fuck’s sake) just comes off as the perfect antidote to all the usual Black Metal idiosyncrasies. Nattefrost has always been a super Black Metal vocalist and their lyrical themes of sadomasochism and self-deprecation are a welcome change from all the ‘hail Satan’ tomfoolery. OK, so with that out of the way what does “Morbid Fascination Of Death” hold in store for us?
More of the same, I’d say. The bulk of this album was written during the “Strange Old Brew” sessions, indeed this album was released less than a year after said album dropped, and while it is easy to decry this album as nothing more than a glorified collection of “Strange Old Brew” B-sides, as some reviews have stated, the truth is that it is that it is a perfectly balanced riff-heavy Black Metal album. On the whole this album might lack the pure necro-ness of the bands early demos or even the ‘fun’ experimental nature of the aforementioned “Strange” album, but if you’re looking for a straightforward Black Metal album with a strong sense of groove (note: not some gay kind of groove…), then look no further than this sucker right here. After the pointless little intro (is there really any other kind?), we kick right off with “Damned To Walk The Earth As Slaves OIf The Living Dead”, a nasty riff-centered track that will put a grin on the faces of all the DARKTHRONE lovers the world over. Said grin will widen with each successive track, especially when “Knokkelman” (a track from their demo days) bashes your skull in with that patented groovy-yet-evil main riff. This is the kind of Black Metal track you can actually headbang to without looking like an idiot and I bloody love it. “Warlord Of Misanthropy” has a definite “Freezing Moon” motif to it and as expected it is more of a mid-paced and atmospheric affair. But that’s not all, as “Carpathian Forest” is an exercise in pure Blackened Thrash mastery, and “Ghoul” is a speed-demon that will get the thumbs up from any DARK FUNERAL fan. Just like on the previous album they also throw in some instrumental tracks with weird whispering, guitar feedback, chanting and that infamous saxophone thrown in and although these fleeting moments tend to drag on a bit they definitely add an air of mystique to proceedings.
So there you have it – another quality CF album. The faster and more to-the-point songs work best but some of the slower songs aren’t without merit. They still show a slight inability to write a completely killer riff (not to mention sustaining it over an entire song/album), but at the end of the day this is a great old-school Black Metal album that is not above having a bit of fun with the listener.
(Online October 6, 2007)