AGRUSS
Death Metal • Ukraine

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AGRUSS is a Ukranian black metal act formed in 2009. The band is set to release their debut album, "Morok", in April of 2012 on code666.

(Bio by J-Man)
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.. Album Cover 3.78 | 5 ratings
Morok
Death Metal 2012

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AGRUSS Morok

Album · 2012 · Death Metal
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UMUR
"Morok" is the debut full-length studio album by Ukrainian death/black metal act Agruss. The album was released through code666 in April 2012. Reading the biography that came with my promo copy, it´s obvious that these six Ukrainian guys have something serious to say with their music. it´s not everyday you come across extreme metal acts with intelligent lyrical themes so allow me to elaborate a bit further. The inspiration for this first part of a planned triology, is found in the everyday lives and struggles of the six musicians. Living and having grown up in a country where ancient forests, swamps and rivers reside next door to nuclear power plants (one of which is Chernobyl which was the center of a tragic nuclear disaster in 1986), these guys are frustrated, angry and sad about the condition of our world and the greed and disregard for nature of those who rule it. The fact that Ukraine isn´t the most safe or prosperous country to live in is also extra fuel for the frustration for these guys.

...all of the above have a tremendous effect on how the music on the album sounds. There´s a desolate post-apocalyptic atmosphere to the album, which is ridden with despair and quite disturbing. The band play an extreme metal style which draws influences from both death and black metal, but the music also features some post metal traits (take a listen to the first couple of minutes of the opening track "Damnation" or the 12 minutes long closing track "Under the Snow III" for examples of that). The music features both brutal riffing and faster paced atmospheric tremolo type riffing while the vocal style alternate between high pitched screams and very brutal and completely unintelligible growls. I usually prefer my growling vocals at least somewhat intelligible, but I have to admit that the vocals on "Morok" suit the music perfectly. The sound production is raw and at times even bordering muddy, but the music and the concept only prospers from a sound that´s not too polished.

"Morok" has been a great listening experience for me. It´s not often you come across such an apocalyptic sounding extreme metal album, that´s not build on some sort of cliché theme. This is a bit deeper than your average zombie apocalypse themed death metal album or your occult apocalyptic themed black metal ditto. The combination of different music styles is effective and the unconventionally structured tracks keep the album interesting throughout. The album also features a great flow and a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is fully deserved.

AGRUSS Morok

Album · 2012 · Death Metal
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optisailor2002
With a name and album artwork as such, it is easy for one to mistake Ukraine's Agruss for an atmospheric black metal band that plays depressive and melancholic music in the veins of what French bands such as Alcest have crafted. However, the band goes on to prove that they are capable of playing music in that style and more on their brand new album, Morok.

The intro of album opener Damnation continues giving listeners that impression, with the sound of wind and water gushing at the background and that melodic, melancholic lead guitar at the foreground, but without warning a crushing chord is struck, and from here on out all hell breaks loose as the band goes into a galloping speed. As the twin vocal attack of Tvorek and Anton come in, the difference between them and your usual atmospheric black metal band becomes immediately obvious, with the alternating between tortured black metal shrieks and an almost brutal death metal-inspired deep, gruff growl, and the layering of these two vastly different vocal styles provide a nice full sound. On top of that, there is also the guitar playing style of Kadya and Pikach, often punctuating the bleak atmosphere with an element of doom and chaos through the grindcore/death metal styled chugging riffs. The inclusion of the wide variety of genres can be heard on Punishment for All, where the band goes from melodic death metal-inspired riffing patterns to a slight brutal death metal/grindcore segment before heading back to black metal territory again. These brutal death metal sections also allow for the members to show off their chops, such as on Ashes of the Future where bassist Mark litters the track with technical and complex segments.

And all these happen with an extremely heavy atmosphere that constantly shrouds the music, giving an extremely fresh sound with the recent surge of similar-sounding releases, with the perfect fusion and balance between a bleak atmosphere more prevalent in black metal with death metal playing styles by the individual members, setting them apart even from other atmospheric death metal bands. Other than the usual ambient sound-effects and sound samples that are used, the band also reinforces the atmosphere with their instruments, in particular when guitarists Kadya and Pikach utilise clean lead guitars and depressive melodies. Songs such as Morok are good examples of the musical style of the band, with a black metal intro that leads into a full on death metal track afterwards. The rough production quality also helps in making Morok all the more charming, allowing for the raw energy that is contained within the band to really shine.

The songwriting of the band is really tested on the closing 3-part epic, Under the Snow, with all three parts adding up to more than 28 minutes, making up almost half of the entire album and if there is one track that to find out Agruss' style of music, this is it, containing some of the most memorable moments of the album and are easily the best tracks out of Morok.

While the mixture of the two distinct genres together could really mess up one's mind at first, Agruss' ability to mix the bleak atmosphere and desolation of black metal together with the brutality and chaos of death metal certainly came across as interesting to say the least, and would definitely catch the attention of black and death metal fans alike, making Morok a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

(http://www.heavymetaltribune.com/)

AGRUSS Morok

Album · 2012 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Morok is the debut album from Ukrainian metal act Agruss. Coming branded with a style of ‘Post-Atomic Black Metal’ Agruss is a band steeped in on-going effects the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The album was even released on the anniversary of the disaster (April 26th). Considering this the tortured extreme metal sound presented on Morok is fitting, the album coming across as something of a reaction to Chernobyl. Musically however the tag is misleading, as Morok, though filled with plenty of black metal rawness, is actually more of a death metal inclined release, also drawing on some –core elements.

The sound of Morok combines the raw production values of black metal with the intense brutality of death metal. It’s an interesting fusion that also includes some more minor leanings into –core territory, which unfortunately may be seen as a negative aspect by the more purist metalhead out there, although the core elements don’t typically hinder the band’s sound to my ears, most likely because they’re few and far between enough to avoid being a backseat driver. All the elements are drawn together into an atmospheric approach. The vocals fit with all the styles as well although I can’t say I’m a major fan of any of the vocals used here. It’s all incomprehensible. That’s fine given the circumstances and focus of the release since it conjures up an atmosphere of extreme and deep torture, anger and frustration (semi-quoting their press release here which unlike the genre tag is pretty accurate) but it does make Morok sit in a very much niche market. It’s most definitely not an album for the faint of heart, being catered towards the most extreme of metalheads. If you’re reading this and are thinking ‘hey, that’s me!’ then Morok is an album worth checking out, but for anyone else, I don’t think it’s going to get more than a passing bit of recognition.

Which I think is fair enough. Although we’re talking a decent enough release, it doesn’t ultimately offer anything that special to the table. It’s neither an album that I can recognise as a true great of metal overall or within its genre. There isn’t much to differentiate between the tracks and being an album composed of mostly long tracks Morok does unfortunately begin to grate a bit on these ears, at least until the final three tracks which comprise the trilogy Under the Snow, which are the clear highlights of Morok but even then there are parts of the delivery, especially vocal wise, where it is just too much about throwing everything together in anger without stepping back to consider the outcome of the results. Granted given the back story surrounding Morok if there is one band with reason to be angry it’s Agruss, but they do show during some parts of the album that they can make their music less intense, resulting in a raw and bleak atmosphere that adds some much needed variation to the album. Listen to Under the Snow III to realise what I mean, the album could have done with a little more of this to give some of the tracks more depth. Truth be told this track has more than enough for the whole release, but it’s like once they got on to the idea they milked it for all its worth.

This said, when considering the premise of the album to recreate (as they put it) the post-atomic atmosphere of their land and the direction Morok takes musically, it would be wrong to deny that it’s a success story, so understand that the rating I’ve awarded Morok is based purely on the music’s qualities; if it’s a dark and bleak atmosphere you’re after then Morok is a highly recommended purchase. For those of us with other demands from death/black metal though then the album is a bit more hit and miss. But I know potential when I hear it and the Under the Snow trilogy is enough to push the album up a grade overall, so it’ll certainly be interesting to hear where the band takes things next.

6.8/10

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))

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