Morag Tong’s debut album Last Knell of Om was only enhanced by their penchant for putting on
killer live performances, selling the simultaneous subtlety and magnitude of their own special
brand of atmospheric doom metal.
They’ve recently released their sophomore album Grieve and (not to bury the lead) it shows that
these relative scene newcomers are well-deserving of attention and accolades, as the album
delivers an exceptional listening experience that expands upon everything that made Last Knell
of Om great.
It all begins with “At First Light” which, much like the morning sun, invites everyone to open their
eyes, open their arms, and embrace the dreamy melodies that start the song off. Adam Asquith,
singer and drummer of Morag Tong, introduces the vocal range he intends to display on Grieve
with clean vocals that err on the side of chanting rather than singing amidst guitar gentle
arpeggios. And then, the song erupts, introducing thick guitar distortion, tremolo-rich leads, and
a slow, deliberate rhythm that essentially carries the entire album from that point forward.
“Passages” marks a brief departure from Morag Tong’s otherwise trademark hum-to-roar
progression, involving more fuzzy distortion that’s reminiscent of stoner doom legends Sleep
and their magnum opus Dopesmoker.
Grit Through Hardy Drum Fills
“A Stem’s Embrace” also deviates from stoner doom clichés, with Asquith adding grit through
hearty drum fills, anguished screams, and a comparatively up-tempo rhythm. There’s even a
legit guitar solo, an absolute rarity in the genre, that pulls the listener in before the track
resumes its quietly confident rhythm guitar roars and trilly tremolo leads to herald the track’s
Grieve features a 42-minute runtime, which is astounding considering it’s only 4 tracks. Twenty
of said minutes belong to the album closer “No Sun, No Moon,” which, despite its bleak title,
traverses far beyond grim misery during its sonic journey.
“No Sun, No Moon” starts with pure ambience and percussion that sounds like ocean waves,
progressively building from gentle tides to crashing waves before a lone arpeggio punctuates
the mix with a quiet intensity. With 20-plus-minutes of track length, “No Sun, No Moon” is all
about the buildup, the rise and fall, the ebb and flow— it’s not afraid of creating massive musical
monuments but understands that it takes restraint to create those moments.
Beautiful Leads Over Massive Riffs
What I like most about Grieve is that Morag Tong never shies away from inserting a beautiful
lead over the top of what’s otherwise a massively heavy riff. The leads perfectly supplement the
music without monopolizing the mix.
Past the 12-minute mark, “No Sun, No Moon” becomes a new tune entirely, adding nuanced
guitar chords with an ethereal, echoey clean tone reminiscent of classic rock legends Pink
Floyd. Asquith further exhibits his talents as a singer with a soulful vocal delivery, elevating the track from impressive to downright breathtaking.
It’s probably my personal favorite section on the entire album, only made more special by the great musicianship that precedes and follows. Grieve is an exceptional sophomore offering. Morag Tong has shown significant growth since their previous release, earning them a solid 9/10 from us here at Metal Purgatory Media. We’ll definitely be stoked to see how the band continues developing their signature sound moving forward.
Overal Score: 9/10
Review By: Chris Covello