Monday, November 7, 2011

Morito Ergo Sum - Moonchild (EP) (2011)

When Morito Ergo Sum released their initial offering, "I Die, Therefore I Am," it was merely a way of putting the pen to the paper. It was only the beginning of the journey for Paolo Cito, the founder, and Walter Basile, his new found vocal power. That disc garnered interest in and around the doom community, and fueled the search to complete a line-up. Barely a year later, they reemerge with a new look and a new sound. But amid all the changes and improvements, including Basile himself handling drum duties, some things remain the same. This is doom, with all the melodic distinctions that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

From the onset of "Behind These Tears," you find a far more aggressive incarnation of the band. The drums are boisterous, full of body, bringing a necessary wrinkle to the formula. This new found punch clears the way for more intricate guitar work. The ringing distortion remains, but is complimented with some expansive solos. This more detailed oriented work is the only piece that was lacking on their previous effort. Not only have they corrected it, but they have highlighted it. Frontman Walter Basile's voice remains as melancholy as before, the glue that holds this somber masterpiece together.

Within the intro to "When The Grass Grows Over Me," you find more evidence of growth. The slightly gritty guitar work is joined by a sullen violin, forming a haunting harmony. Even as the track changes, the remnants of that melody remain. Taking the more traditional doom path, the tempo slows and distortion reigns supreme.  However, the single identifying characteristic, the one that will always remind you of who you are listening to, is the voice of Walter Basile. His subtleties and range allow for the music to unfold around him, rather than on top of him. His voice finds its way through the heavy low end, rarely dominating, but always complimenting. And while it may sound like an after thought, it creates a striking balance with the guitars, allowing each one to play off the other.

A staggering drum roll opens "This Selfish Act," setting the stage for Basile's ghostly tone to haunt the body of the track. This is the most assertive track on the album, taking a very up front approach to the doom style. The tone on the drums is a drastic improvement from earlier works, with each snare and kick inviting a nod of the head. But the key word continues to be "balance," as each piece is now equal with the others. Whether it be bass, guitars, drums or vocals, each has an equal share in the final result. What makes this equality so impressive is the different emotions each brings to the table. Like any good collaborative effort, the contrast is what makes it successful. The guitars are distorted and bleak, while the bass clean and smooth. The solo section is unlike anything Morito Ergo Sum has ever produced before, taking their concept into faster tempos and more precise instrumentation.

Basile takes a much deserved lead on the title track, a cover of King Crimson's "Moonchild," alongside an effects tinged guitar melody. By far the shortest track on the EP, clocking in at a measly five and a half minutes, it contains and vocal delivery that would fit into a seventies folk rock masterpiece. Once again, his subtle sadness is the star, heightened by yet another great solo section. This track, like the others, is a realization of Paolo Cito's original concept. He has taken the doom mold and reshaped it, removing the amorphous blob of growls and screams, and replacing it with a clean voice of reason and despair. Not only does it play well off of the heavy, dark instrumentation, but it allows for a better vessel to deliver the lyrical content. And Basile fills that position perfectly.

Comparing the previous EP to "Moonchild" is like comparing apples and oranges. The former was the framework to something great. The latter is the vision come to life, an incredible display of doom theory, twisted into a new shape. On these four songs, Morito Ergo Sum separate themselves from the others. Whether it be the crystal clear production or the new found power to the music itself, it all comes together in a significant way. Add the vocals of a top notch frontman, and you are as close to a "sure thing" as the metal world gets. 


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