Morgue Supplier is a Chicago-based grindcore act with a lengthy career, but precious little recorded material to show for it. Formed in 1997 as Jugular Appetizer, and assuming its current moniker in 1999, the band managed two EPs and a full-length album between 2001 and 2009, but outside of a single in 2013, the group has been silent until the recent release of its self-titled sophomore album.
Despite having a rather slim discography, upon listening to Morgue Supplier, it is immediately apparent that this is a veteran band that knows how to grind. The first few tracks are fairly straightforward affairs full of hyper-speed brutality, but even on these, the band reveals a strong sense of groove and an ability to craft individually recognizable songs. Good grind, in my estimation, is made in the spaces between the blast beats, and Morgue Supplier excels at packing a great variety of memorable riffs in the eye of each storm, be it through groove, dissonance, bizzaro Voivod-esque mind-fucks, or even a side-long glance at melody. Vocalist Paul Gillis also contributes to the album’s variety of sounds with a sort of Jekyll and Hyde approach, alternating deep death growls with a depraved-sounding mid-ranged rasp.
As Morgue Supplier evolves, it hints at being more than just a grind album, and by track six, “End of Self,” hints are no longer needed. This three-and-a-half-minute piece pulls together elements of grind, sludge, doom and death metal to form a mini-epic of sorts, and the band even caps it off with a guitar solo. In a way, “End of Self” sets the tone for the rest of the album; tracks generally grow a little longer and more non-grind elements are blended into the mix. Whatever path the Morgue Supplier wanders down, however, it always seems to lead to an eruption of violence. The band stretches out but never forgets itself.
With so much going on it’s difficult to pin down standouts on this album, but the grim, slow churn of “Rotting in an Alley” rivals “End of Self” in the multi-genre epic department. “Destroying a Human,” on the other hand, is a prime example of Morgue Supplier straight-up grinding your face off. The tune opens with a storm of sledgehammers, but after the briefest of bass interludes at the mid-point, a riff emerges that chews through the rest of the track like driver ants on amphetamines; It’s total grind terror.
Grindcore has always been a melting pot of a genre, so as diverse as Morgue Supplier is, the album does not necessarily break new ground, but it covers a lot of it. At forty minutes, Morgue Supplier is almost bloated by grind standards, and there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a punishing listen. That is the point, after all, but this is such a rich mine of riffs — and it’s all performed with such confidence — that it bears repeated listens well. If the band stays true to form it will be a while before we see another Morgue Supplier album, but in the meantime, there’s plenty to chew on here.