Morgana Lefay - Aberrations of the mind 4/5
2. Make a wish
3. The rush of posession
5. Caught in the tread wheel
6. Reflections of war
7. Face of fear
8. Where I rule
9. In shadows I rule
10. Aberration of the mind
11. Vultures devouring
12. Over and over again
'Grand materia', Morgana Lefay's return to activity in 2005 after several years' absence, was an astounding CD. The band came roaring back with their brand of thrashy power metal that combines modern groove with a strong sense of melody and moody darkness to deliver a superb selection of songs built around a strong concept.
Things have been done slightly differently this time around – the songs are all stand-alone, and, free of writing to suit an already-in-place storyline, the band have really gone for the jugular with a CD that is massively aggressive from the get-go, almost never letting up throughout.
With their trademark style of hard-as-nails riffs, littered with technical kinks, and prominent, aggressive and precise drumming, the term 'power metal' needs to be applied loosely to Morgana Lefay, but they never allow their unashamedly modern influences to compromise their strong sense of melody or theatrical edge.
This last aspect is, as has always been the case, mostly down to the vocals of Charles Rytkönen, and while maintaining his recognised approach, he has never sounded more intense than he does on this CD; he still spits every word like the most vitriolic version of Jon Oliva imaginable, and includes many passages delivered in a guttural roar that borders on true harsh vocals from time to time. His totally off-the-wall performance on the song "Aberration of mind", culminating in a genuinely anguished-sounding scream is simply incredible.
This song also exemplifies how Morgana Lefay take distinctly modern and un-power metal influences and incorporate them seamlessly into their style – the verses are backed by that usually-horrendous nu-metal guitar buzz that somehow just fits the song perfectly, showing that virtually anything can be done well if executed tastefully and with the requisite expertise.
They also seem to have taken a few cues from Nevermore throughout - a band they have always shared the same power/groove metal sphere without ever actually sounding too similar - with more emphasis on mechanical intricacy than before. In fact, one of only 2 slower songs on the CD, "Depression", sounds in places just a little like a more uptempo version of the Seattle band's "The heart collector".
Guitarists Tony Eriksson and Peter Grehn are on top form throughout, combining their hard-hitting and groove-laden riffs with exquisite solos, both chaotic and melodic. The old Pantera trick of playing a solo section backed only by bass rather than rhythm guitar is used a couple of times, and combination of melodic notes pirouetting over the monstrous growl of Fredrik Lundberg's low frequencies is executed masterfully.
'Aberrations of the mind' is a very different animal than 'Grand materia', with both succeeding incredibly for different reasons. In the end, it will come down to the taste, or even simply the mood, of the individual listener. On a personal level, I preferred the gloomy melancholy and creeping menace of the predecessor, but as a non-stop flurry of aggression, 'Aberrations of the mind' will push all the right buttons for power metal fans happy with a bit of guts in their music. As a tonic to the overly sugary bands in the genre, Morgana Lefay are faultless, and their latest CD comes pretty close to that tag too.
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