There are rebirths and there are reanimations. A reanimation is, when a band gives it another try, especially, if they would have better given up even before and now completely ridicule themselves. A rebirth is, if you do it like this band: MORGANA LEFAY. After having split from Black Mark, they had to cut their name to LEFAY and another album was released under the banner of MORGANA LEFAY, with former members and a musically completely different direction, what did not really help the cause.
Four years after the end of LEFAY the Bollnäs quintet finally is back and as you can see, under the old name MORGANA LEFAY, again with Black Mark Records and a new bassist (Fredde Lundberg, formerly with DIVINE SIN). On the other hand some things have stayed the same: A great cover artwork by Kristian Wahlin, Chulle Rytkönen’s absolutely unique voice and the typical and original MORGANA LEFAY sound, the ground is broken, so how do they fare?
The answer is easy: GREAT! The gentlemen Rytkönen, Eriksson, Grehn, Lundberg and Engström (Hey Bro!) have stayed true to themselves, but without even remotely copying themselves, resulting in a simply great arse-kicking album from beginning to end, establishing them high up in the genre echelons as if they never had left! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with: “Grand Materia“!
As with “Maleficium“ and “---…---“ they took up a concept that deals with Nicholas Flamell, a 14th century alchemist, who allegedly lived forever. As you can see, they also continue with their history of unusual concept, unfortunately I don’t have the lyrics yet, but I guess that they are pretty interesting again.
From the get-go MORGANA LEFAY don’t take any prisoners, but supported by a very powerful and clear production they take the heart and ears of the listener by storm and once more prove very successfully that Power Metal does not have to be Fantasy, big choirs and bombast, but can be damn HEAVY. The riff walls of opener “Grand Materia“ in combination with the pumping bass and Charles’ inimitable rough/melodic voice crush any walls of reservation into dust, dense, heavy, dark, not even remotely bombastic or neoclassical, an absolute brilliant beginning!
And that’s only the beginning! “My Funeral Is Calling“ delivers an a lot thrashier rhythm, again combined with a catchy and dark chorus, which is the perfect translation for the intense lyrics. Then the guys surprise with “Only Endless Time Remains“, a classical/pure ballad, which sets out acoustically and then slowly rises in intensity, but without venturing off the balladesque core. And these three songs show the versatility of MORGANA LEFAY, they can convey any possible mood and emotion, which continues to thread through the rest of the album.
“Hollow“, the first track that had been circulating radio stations (and was played on “The Metal Observer Radio“ for the first time world wide!), combines almost all of the above in a great way, before the Thrash riffing returns with “Edge Of Mind”, belting out another slow- to mid-paced breaker that doesn’t have to hide from anybody in terms of heaviness! “I Roam” is another intense and very catchy future live classic, while “Operation Of The Sun“ grows more and more, with mighty riffs and everything else that we need!
So let’s recapitulate: Great songs, very variable song writing, very tight guitar and rhythm work, world class vocals, damn heavy, cool cover, strong production, to make it short: One of the best Power Metal albums that we will hear this year!
Welcome back, guys! (Online April 27, 2005)