While always something of an odd man out in the early days of Death Metal, Switzerland's MESSIAH did make a fairly impressive splash in the early days of Death Metal in the mid to late 80s with a couple of raw, dark offerings that paralleled the word done in the U.S. and by SEPULTURA way down in Brazil. However, with a change in lineup that included the introduction of vocalist Andy Kaina, things took on a bit more of a hi-fi twist as the band decided to up the production ante something fierce and further plunging into the mystical side of the Death Metal coin that the genre was originally rooted in when POSSESSED released its iconic "Seven Churches" and several others soon followed suit.
While fairly short in scope, "Psychomorphia" comes packed with enough creepy tales of a mind gone psychotic to creep out even the most fanatical of horror flick consumers. It starts with an extended foray into ambient territory that listens right out of a movie soundtrack, completely with dreary string sounds and an ominous bell that seems to be warning of a coming storm. These keyboard elements recur throughout the EP and seem to be pointing towards the same kind of esoteric character that was being explored by DEATH, NOCTURNUS, and DARKTHRONE at around this time, which is fitting since the overall character of this band's sound fits in with what they did on their early 90s Death Metal offerings.
The actual Death Metal contents on here are pretty similar to the technically tinged thrashing character of a number of late 80s Thrash albums as well as the ongoing development of DEATH’S progressing sound. The riff work is fairly fancy and hints at some Bay Area influences along similar lines to that of "Beneath The Remains", often moving quite fast and frequently hitting these rhythmic stops and starts that range from jarring to outright neck-wrenching. Coupled with a series of creepy atmospheric interludes such as the one halfway through "Right For Unright" and things almost seem to be introducing a spiritual/cosmic element into what is largely an introspective tale of madness.
It's a rare thing that a preview will outclass the eventual feature presentation, but "Psychomorphia" actually has a slight edge over its follow up "Choir Of Horrors" in that it holds very little back when it comes to the aggression factor. There's not quite as much technical lead guitar showmanship in comparison to the comparable albums out of Florida at this point and time, but this is best understood as being the early 90s version of a technical album in much the same respect as DEATH’S work at the time, underscored by Kaina's very similar voice to that of Schuldiner's. Prepare to be terrified, but in a more subtle way than what might normally freak out the present generation of Death Metal freaks.
(Online July 29, 2013)