Come Read The Words Forbidden
The evidence can no longer be ignored: an Eastern European power metal surge is coming and we’d all best stock up on Dragonland and Lost Horizon before they overtake us all. This year Chronology and Wisdom already raised the flag for Hungary and now Morton has come to hoist the banners of Ukraine. Safe to say music as we know it will never be the same again. Max “Morton” Pasechnik is a renowned sound-producer (or at least his website claims he is) who put his own band together under his last name. No offense, but can I just say this is becoming an increasingly annoying trend? What happened to Steeldragon and Firehammer, people? Anyway, uninspired band name or not, Morton proves to be a powerhouse on the other side of the studio glass as well, because this is a smashing debut the likes of which we do not see too often anymore from western Europe.
“Come Read The Words Forbidden” features four songs from last year’s EP “Grimoire” and nine new ones. Unlike Thaurorod’s debut there isn’t a major difference in quality between the two releases, and ‘oldies’ have no problem keeping up with ‘newbies’. I’d even give some of the previously existing material an edge. “Oblivion” is the kind of song whose lyrics you’ll want to memorize as quickly as possible because humming is just not going to cut it in the shower. The rapturous “Werewolf Hunt” opens with a manic keyboard intro, as if actual lycanthropes were chasing you around the music-playing device of your choosing. ‘You can almost feel the caress of their jaws…,’ singer Morton assures us and I almost really did indeed. “Grimoire” is a softer song of sorts, opting for an unconventional structure and a haunting atmosphere, not unlike Kamelot in their golden days.
On to the new material. The album fires on all cylinders from minute one with a triptych of pure power metal pornography. “Calling For The Storm” gives Hammerfall, Silent Force, Gamma Ray (and probably a bunch of other bands) a run for their money, as this is off now the best opener about storms and such in the business. Every power metal band is ancestrally and legally obligated to have at least one song about eagles, and “Eaglemark” easily soars among the greatest skydivers in the genre, like Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius. And the holy trinity of power metal tropes wouldn’t be complete without some kind of reference to brotherhood, unity in strength, and standing side by side for fighting purposes. “Brotherhood Of Light” is all you want from an uplifting and belligerent song about keeping up your spirits in the face of whatever danger besets your Dungeons & Dragons-character Flungo, the kickboxing gnome.
Taking a slight plunge into less stellar territory (which they can quite afford after all that yummyness) is the next set of tracks, with “Sleeping King” being an agreeable tune and “We Are The Shades” building up some medieval tension again not unlike Kamelot, who used to have some Renaissance-flair back in the days of “The Fourth Legacy”. Closer “Weeping Bell” again shows off the bands willingness to go the distance and come up with something unfound on the rest of the album. A melancholic and slow dirge with an unforgettable chorus, it closes the album miles away from the glorious pomp of the opener. The diversity on offer is just another one in the plus column, which has taken over the minus column almost entirely at this point.
Still this album is not without its flaws, and three to four tracks don’t meet the mark set by their colleagues. Minor filler notwithstanding “Come Read The Words Forbidden” makes up for the occasional dud with daring, varied and above all sparkling power metal, marking Ukraine firmly on the map of countries we now have to reckon with. Whether it’s an intense study of the genre or the fallout of Chernobyl that turned these guys into the power metal powerhouse they are, I dare not say, but Morton is here to stay and we’d better damn get used to it.
Arno Callens' rating: 4.0 out of 5