Originally written by Jon Eardley
New Jersey-based metallers Morbid Sin began their quest for all things metal roughly 25 years ago, but it wasn’t until early 2010 that the outfit finally released their first full-length album, Sins of the Flesh. Originally recorded in 1998, but again unreleased until just last year, the overall sound of said release more than likely brought you back even a decade earlier than that with its convincing homage to the more traditional elements of thrashy heavy metal. What we have here are two demos in one package – recorded in ’88 and ’92 respectively – of a more youthful sounding Morbid Sin (obviously), and one with a hell of a lot more piss and vinegar than the one that can be heard on the full-length.
While Sins of the Flesh is a tamer and more controlled Morbid Sin, the first of the two demos here, originally dubbed The Arrival of the Sin, showcases a much more vicious approach than on the full-length. And after the brief intro that is the title-track, the ferociously paced “Injector” blasts things off with lead throat Bobby “Leather Lungs” Lucas (Overlorde, Exhibition, ex-Seven Witches) letting out a high pitched siren-like scream and leading the charge. Vocally you get plenty of the high-end wails with some softer, gentler crooning during the slower, moodier sections, and at other times he unleashes some grittier, dirtier lines not that much unlike Blitz from thrash metal giants Overkill.
There is no shortage of headbang-able riffs throughout the 10 songs, and while they may seem a bit dated here in ’11, the simple fact is they fit in perfectly with other bands of this ilk during that time period. But it’s not all about ferocity with Morbid Sin, as slower anthems like “Children of War” and “Sisters of Salem” bring things down and allow Lucas to layer them with some beautifully placed melodies. And we’re not talking ballads here, just well-written slower numbers that flow with emotion, and each builds up to more aggressive middle sections that flourish with more than competent lead work.
For ’88, the sound quality isn’t all that bad, but being this was taken from old analog tapes, there are some dirty moments where the music cuts out and it can seem a bit wavy. The production of the ’92 demo, originally entitled Cauldron of Souls, sounds about four years better, as it should, and once again the group flies out of the gate with the furious “Twisted Souls in Hell” followed by slow-chugging galloper “The Cathedral”. One thing of note is that there are more dual guitar harmonies prevalent than on the previous demo, giving the songs a fuller and more melodic feel, but they don’t overdo it, which allows the vocals to remain the driving ingredient in the mix. “Endangered Species” is a true nod to the aforementioned Overkill, with a blitzkrieg of a verse section that flows into a groove-driven part, another attribute that can be heard more on the latter demo.
The only repeat offender here is “Sisters of Salem”, and I can see why they re-recorded the song because it’s probably their strongest number. Not much is different than the prior version, but it’s obviously one of the band’s favorites due to the fact that there’s a sequel to it in “Return to Salem” off the Sins of the Flesh full-length. “Walking Through Darkness” closes things out, and while it’s probably my least favorite song, there is a superb guitar solo near the end of it.
My only knock on this package, outside of my nit-picky production concerns, is that unless you were there at the time as a follower of this group, you may be hard-pressed to want to fork over the ching for this. But if you have indeed picked up and enjoyed the full-length then this should be a no-brainer. Yes, the sound quality is shabby – less so on the latter five songs – but the playing is tight, the vocals for the most part are outstanding, and the songs slay. Thanks to the good folks over at Stormspell Records you can pick this up at a fair price, and if you are indeed a metalhead who can’t get enough of this style, then this is most definitely worth a look.