Moral Collapse – Divine Prosthetics Review

[Cover Art by Manisha Mohnani]

In 2021, Moral Collapse released their self-titled debut album, seemingly out of nowhere. Better than a surprise debut is a really damn good surprise debut, and that’s precisely what Moral Collapse delivered. In fact, Moral Collapse was my #3 overall album in 2021, and because I write alongside lovely, intelligent people, it made our collective #19 spot as well. The band’s bruising amalgam of subtle groove, swirling guitars and the right touch of technicality gave the whole affair a fascinating man-versus-machine feel. The industrial production paired with loose playing made for a fascinating marriage in metal compositional form.

Release date: June 2, 2023. Label: Subcontinental Records
The band laid bare its interest in experimenting by injecting wailing saxophones, scraping violins and strange chittering vocalizations. In particular, the debut closed with “Trapped Without Recourse,” which had no death metal in it at all. Interestingly, focusing on strange instrumentals and further highlighting those experimental tendencies is the primary function of album number two, Divine Prosthetics. That’s not to say the album is devoid of death metal by any means, but unnerving soundscapes dominate the runtime, and the experimental elements that were more often wrapped within death metal songs have been pulled out and given their own space.

The album opens with “Disintegration” (don’t worry, it’s not a cover), which picks up right where that sense of man versus machine left off on Moral Collapse. It’s a two-and-a-half-minute instrumental featuring bizarre industrial sounds, including some that ping like a mechanical version of water dripping. While its runtime would lead you to believe this is simply an intro track, it’s actually more of an indicator of the album’s primary direction.

Following that, “Precise Incision” and “Calamitous” bring back the biting death metal that made Last Rites’ ears go aflutter two years ago. The former blends pummeling grooves with bending riffs paired against rhythmic tremolo assaults spliced between whirling notes that spin like a mini-twister in the desert. The latter has potent bass notes popping between twirling notes just as often as it acts as a potent engine that drives the song ever forward. “Divine Prosthetics I” also cedes its time to the gods rock and roll, kicking things off with a death-infused thrash riff pitted against violent rhythms. It’s easily the heaviest song on the album and features a fantastic late lead, not to be outdone by guest leads on the other two aforementioned death metal diddies.

The sticking point for many fans will come in the form of “NORDescent” and “Divine Prosthetic II,” both of which are essentially horror soundscapes. As it bridges the gap between “Calamitous” and “Divine Prosthetic I,” “NORDescent” is the more effective of the two. It utilizes pulsing sounds, eerie whispering voices, scraping notes, intermittent feedback and the occasional wafting saxophone note, among other elements, to create tension and discomfort before delivering the release of pummeling death. “Divine Prosthetic II,” on the other hand, opens with real promise but opts to fade out slowly and lightly rather than going for full bombast. The song opens with guitar notes that sound like they are coming through the practice room just before those mechanical droplets from the opening track resurface. Eventually, Hannes Grossmann’s drums start going wild against discordant guitars in an improvised manner, like the closing “[untitled]” of Gigan’s album Order Of The False Eye. Just as the madness starts to hit a fever pitch, the song shifts down and lets the saxophone take over before slowly slipping into light noise and nothingness over several minutes. Your appreciation of that ending will likely depend on your preference for the world ending with a bang or a whimper.

Moral Collapse’s mastermind, Arun Natarajan (guitars, bass and vocals), stated that he approached the album with an EP mentality and an eye on experimenting. Perhaps labeling it as such rather than a full-length may have allotted for a more open-minded approach from many listeners. There’s plenty of interesting stuff happening on Divine Prosthetics, even if the delivery of those things is not as immediate as they were on the debut. Ultimately, however, it will come down to whether or not you will appreciate experimental sounds taking up two-thirds of an album’s runtime or not.

Posted by Spencer Hotz

Admirer of the weird, the bizarre and the heavy, but so are you. Why else would you be here?

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