The Black Moriah
Released: 2012, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
True story – I was enamored with CASKET PROSPECTS from the moment I pulled the CD out of its mailing slip and laid eyes on the packaging. Yes, I’d heard some samples and had an indication that the actual tunes pressed onto the disc were going to be pretty good, but I’m a sucker for originality, and The Black Moriah brings it in spades. Let me back up for a moment – The Black Moriah is a blackened thrash outfit from the Ft. Worth Texas area, and claims former members of Absu, Verkömmen, and a litany of other underground heroes from the Texas metal scene to its lineup. Musically, they recall the finer moments of bands like Absu, Goatwhore, Kreator, and Bathory, with open nods to the early Norwegian black metal scene, but it’s the presentation that just nails this f@#king coffin shut. The theme of the band and their debut release CASKET PROSPECTS has a sort of 19th century old west vibe to it, which on the surface you’d think would be completely at odds with the aural decimation contained across the album’s 10 tracks. But I’ll be damned if the whole thing doesn’t work in a brilliantly black synchronicity.
For those unfamiliar with American history or if you neglected to pay attention in class, the old west wasn’t the colorful and rambunctious setting portrayed in so many John Wayne or Clint Eastwood films. Life was hard, life was dirty, and death was a constantly looming reality – be it from famine, disease, or from so many uncontrollable elements that had a way of taking its toll at any moment. That, my friends, is honest to goodness human brutality. And that’s exactly the kind of brutality that The Black Moriah conveys on CASKET PROSPECTS. From the images of dead battlefield soldiers in the liner notes, to vivid lyrical imagery of treacherous desert wastelands, to the forgoing of traditional black metal garb in favor of the apparel of the time, you can’t accuse the band of half assing it here.
But image and style only gets you so far. Thankfully, CASKET PROSPECTS is an album chock full of blackened thrash goodness that can stand on its own musical merit. The tunes stick pretty close to the conventions of the genre, but there’s plenty of variety to be found which helps to keep the listener interested and involved. “Watch My Town Burn” and “Southern Tombstone” smell of latter day Darkthrone/Bathory, while the title track and “Exile of Avalon” are more traditional thrashers. My favorite track of the lot, “Chained & Confined” is tucked away towards the end of the disc, but it’s just an altogether evil sounding tune with some Venom inspired rhythms and some wicked hammer on licks. In actuality, there’s not a dull track to be found on CASKET PROSPECTS, and with a run time of just under 40 minutes, it never feels like its overstayed its welcome.
The performances are lockstep tight without much pomp or fluff, but the riffs and arrangements are complex enough that you get a sense that each musician is comfortable with their respective instrument. And the production is cold, dry, and crisp, not unlike the early morning winds that pass across the plains just before dawn breaks. Otherwise said, CASKET PROSPECTS sounds really good. Again, big props to The Black Moriah for at least having the guts to break with pack and try something different conceptually. Even bigger props for succeeding in that endeavor with a debut where the tunes hold up just as well with or without those concepts. Check out The Black Moriah website for more info on the band and purchase info for CASKET PROSPECTS.