Two bass guitars and drums – this is the alchemy in Morkobot – not exactly the most conventional nor obvious choice for a lineup. Spawning from Italy, the trio (Lin, Lan and Len) have claimed this is their most focused of projects after their previous 1 track album ‘Morto’.
With a track list that reads like an anagramist’s nightmare, Morkobot say MoRbO (latin for Disease) is the most focused and raw of their albums, this being their forth to date. How does it sound to a new listener like myself then?
Commencing with ‘Ultramorth’ (‘Beyond Death’ in Latin if you take the H off) a heavy slightly Korn-eqsue riff that pans from one side to the other. All of a sudden a head mashing thunder of drums and bass power blast through, without trying to use to many clichés in one sentence. The sliding on the bass and obscure timing signatures are incredibly addictive. ‘Ultramorth’ connotes images of the inner workings of a gigantic robot being compiled and assembled. An assortment of effected bass sections which are compelling to the ear. They shout at you to listen, as they so rightly should dictate. The sonic composition is something I personally have heard little of before. An opening track worthy of an accolade. Nevertheless, it is with regret that I say the rest is fairly down hill from here on in.
After the seven minute introduction, you are feeling a little worn out. Sequel track ‘Orkotomb’ sounds like an extension of the first. I was confused when at first listen there was no distinction for me from the first track to the second. It has a slightly funkier snapped sounding bass with a grungy one under pinning it. The best section is around the 1 minute 50 mark, with drum tom rolls and ghost notes and Les Claypool sonic’s. The pushes from the drums really accentuated the sound. This one is growing on me.
Afterwards is ‘Orbothord’, a fairly skippable track in comparison to the others as well as forth track ‘Oktrombo’ (a more punk sounding track). They lack the sheer ear candy to sustain interest. By now I was pondering as to whether I was hearing a repeat of certain ideas. I did keep in mind that there may be a limit to what two bassists and a drummer can achieve though.
Thankfully 9 minute ‘Mor’ came to the rescue. With something of the craziest and instantly grooving drum pieces it felt like a breathe of fresh air. A quieter, yet just as evil affair, ‘Mor’ has a huge focus on tension building and I will admit after 9 minutes I was asking for… well, more! The usage of glitched effects on the bass to create the sound of a giant computer worked well and streamlined the theme of the album once again. (Get it, it’s a pun on the title of the song… fucking brilliant. -_- )
As the pitched down drums fade away from ‘Mor’ comes ‘Oktomorb’. A more typically metal sounding track. Definitely one out of 3 on the album I’d return to. The final track ‘Obrom’ dabbles again with obscured timings, but it only really gets good at the half waypoint. It does feel as if they thought “All music is in a constant riff, we really need to chop it up as randomly as possible” however. Which is a shame as if they had a simplified the riff a tiny bit it would have made an excellent closure. The stops are punctuated by a wooden beaten sound between; probably someone knocking on the body of the bass. It creates an obscure sensation.
The biggest issue is the first track develops this nice cross breed sound of Nu Metal and Progressive Rock, but the sound never changes. The riffs never differentiate. There are certain tracks I may listen to again as they do stand out against the rest. Nevertheless, the album lacks a flowing melody. Even without a singer the instrumentals really need some thought on the titles and some form of melody amongst the churning riffs. A bit more texture and a little bit more experimentation and I think they might have a brilliant album. This isn’t it unfortunately.
The bass heavy and warped sound however is still something that is surprisingly listenable. MoRbo is the aural sound of molten iron being cast into your ears, in all the right ways. The Metal has never sounded so ferocious. Just if they can add a little more variety my rating might go up. Not a horrible and bad album though. Psychedelic and hypnotic.
5/10 – Worth a listen, some really outstanding moments hidden within fairly repetitive bits. I will definitely return to some of the tracks.
Released Date: 24th October 2011
(One last note, Morbo is also the name of the anchor alien in Futurama. Maybe they are fans?)