Execration - Morbid Dimensions (Hells Headbangers)

Strong release from a notable contemporary Norwegian death metal band.
Release Date: 
9 Dec 2014 (All day)

Execration are part of a crop of contemporary Norwegian death metal bands that are capturing international attention and stepping out of the enormous shadow cast by the notorious Norwegian black metal scene. This scene includes bands like Diskord and Obliteration, the latter of which released a stellar album, Black Death Horizon, in 2013, and are highly regarded by Fenriz from Darkthrone. Execration tip their hat to the old school but are not appealing to retro sensibilities, instead striving to forge their own left hand path.

First song Cosmic Mausoleum (great title!) begins like a more proggy version of Sabotage era Black Sabbath. A creepy sensation seeps into your bones with the surprisingly gentle instrumentation, as the listener waits for the brutality to kick in, but it does not happen. Until you least expect it, that is, and it catches you off guard. Ritual Hypnosis immediately grabs attention with an off-kilter riff pattern. Standout and varied vocals are featured, ranging from yelling semi-hardcore to a bowel scraping death metal roar. Brilliant lead guitar tops everything off.

The title track has bassist Jonas Helgemo doing his most Steve Harris gallop at times, before shifting impeccably into doom territory - quite a unique musical arrangement for bass. The bass tone is important to the overall sound of the album, as it plays a central role. It is the opposite of being buried in mud, as is often the case with bands that incorporate doom influences, as Execration do. Think Cynic and Atheist, though not as rabidly technical. By about the fifth song, interest starts to wane. Not because of the lack of songwriting talent, but simply in the songs not being gripping enough songs to hold one’s interest, especially when it takes two minutes or more to get to the main riff or theme. Musicianship is always on top form - brevity of songs is not, and it starts to take its toll. Final song Funeral Procession recaptures interest by picking up the pace, starting with what sounds like a burning fire and disharmonic guitar notes, then shifting between various speeds, and ending with a charismatic ‘Ugh!’ echoing into eternity. 

Although not obviously progressive with a capital P, the longer songs, substantial instrumental sections, quality musicianship, and a definite original flavour to Execration’s songwriting and composition mark them out as a progressive band. Full of interesting ideas, a number of profound soundscapes, and several excellent songs, Morbid Dimensions is a strong death metal record that explores different musical, well, dimensions. It could have potentially been more of a cohesive album had the songs been tighter and more streamlined, but its sprawling ambition should be applauded nonetheless. Modern Norwegian death metal has plenty to offer the international metal scene, and Execration is one of its finer representatives.