St. Vitus Bar
Brooklyn, New York
May 10, 2015
Review by Joe Sullivan, Photos by Joy Sullivan
In the early 1990s, the New York Death Metal scene was at its peak. Brutal bands like Suffocation, Mortician, Immolation, Baphomet, Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, and Morpheus Descends ruled the wasteland, it was an incredible time. Back in 1993 I got to see Morpheus Descends 3 times and I was blown away by their raw, ferocious brand of death metal. I never thought I’d get to see them again. Well guess what, brutal music never dies! Morpheus Descends reformed in 2013 with their original lineup and signed with Dark Descent Records to release their all-encompassing boxed set FROM BLACKENED CRYPTS. Tonight is the release party of the boxed set at the St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. How fucking mind bendingly unbelievable is this? Time to get submerged in adipocere! On Mother’s Day no less! BRING IT MOTHERFUCKERS!
The St. Vitus Bar is this cool metal bar in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. From the outside you’d never know it was fucking there, no sign, no nothing, the metalheads smoking outside gave it away. Inside there was a large bar with a separate showroom. No seats, all pit. The stage was small and only about 2 feet off the ground. Lighting was shitty and the sound quality was decent. Good place to see a show but The Paper Box (also in Brooklyn) is a better venue. Turnout was good, probably about 200 people.
Morpheus took the stage at about 11PM and dove right into their signature crusher, “Corpse Under Glass” from RITUAL OF INFINITY. Immediately the bar was set very high. From Rob Yench’s foreboding opening riff to drummer Sam Inzerra’s bludgeoning assault, I knew we were in for a good night! Vocalist Craig Campbell added his sick growl and the headbanging commenced! The band was very tight and together and the performance was heavier and more powerful than the album version. Then Morpheus switched gears and took us back to THE CRONICLES OF THE SHADOWED ONES with an amazing rendition of “Cairn of Dumitru”. A more complex song, Morpheus show impressive musicianship with multiple tempo changes, fluid drumming, and precise riffing. Craig’s guttural vox could be heard clearly throughout and he seemed to be getting even stronger. This is some heavy shit folks!
Craig asked the crowd to remember former Morpheus vocalist Jeff Reimer (RIP) and the fans showed their support. When I saw Morpheus 22 years ago it was with Jeff at the helm, so I thought it was great that the band acknowledged him onstage. Craig’s vocal style is similar to Jeff’s and he nailed all of the material with good range and power. Tonight Morpheus also had a new second guitarist, Ed Winner, who fit right in and played like he had been with them for years.
Set was a great career spanning mix that touched on all of their recordings. The whole set was a highlight, but if I had to choose favorites I’m going with “Trephanation” (best song of the night, super old school tune goes back to the ADIPOCERE EP when Craig was the singer! Haunting riff about halfway through!), “Immortal Coil” (I love anything from RITUAL!), “Begging For Possession” (from THE HORROR OF THE TRUTH. GODDAMN they really will play anything!), and new songs “The King’s Curse” and Oozing From The Urn”. Their new material is a blend of their straightforward brutal RITUAL days and the more nuanced doomy CRONICLES era and I fucking love it! Sam really showed his drumming prowess on the new songs and the CRONICLES material, his blast beats are impressive but what is really noteworthy is his masterful fills. Ken Faggio provided thudding bass throughout the set and Rob’s leaden grinding riffs were great. Pit was weak and unfortunately there was no moshing whatsoever, but the crowd did headbang a lot and they clearly were into the set.
It was a great night and I got to re-live my early 20s again seeing a band from back in the day still killing it. I got to meet all of the guys and they were cool, laid back dudes who happen to be Death Metal masters. More to come for Morpheus Descends, Maryland Death Fest XIII is just around the corner and a new album is in the works. Catch Morpheus Descends when they come to town and prepare to be destroyed by their brand of New York Death Metal. If heavy, sick evil sounding shit is your thing, this band is for you! Pick up a copy of their boxed set FROM BLACKENED CRYPTS and become part of the Immortal Coil!
Corpse Under Glass
Cairn Of Dumitru
Begging for Possession
Oozing From The Urn
The King’s Curse
The Cruciform Hills