Morphia - One Last Embrace (DVD/CD)
Dark Balance
Doom Metal
Disc 1: 12 songs (1:20:20) Disc 2: 9 songs (57:50)
Release year: 2009
Morphia, Dark Balance
Reviewed by Goat

Having been in existence since 1995 when they started as a Death Metal band, Dutch Doomsters Morphia added symphonic and gothic influences to their style over the years, but due to added pressure from family and jobs decided to call it a day, with a concert to say farewell to fans. One Last Embrace is exactly that, a final salute and hug from Morphia, recorded in November 08 at the Brainstorm festival in Apeldoorn, and from the moment that the darkened room is revealed and the eerie keyboard of Peter van Tulder begins its moan, you know you’re in for a good show. The guitarists appear on stage as if by magic, and the crowd are silent, spellbound. Fading Beauty, the first track, starts harsh and slow, growled vocals and traditional Death/Doom riffs soon changing to clean vocals and melodic leads and back again. A spoken vocal section manages to transcend cheesiness and is rather impressively atmospheric, especially with the keyboard backing, and the build-up to the finale is great.

Not knowing the band as well as those in attendance, the sudden fit of headbanging that greeted second song Again was a puzzle, and to be honest it sounded rather similar to its predecessor at first until Thrashy riffing and dual growls proved me wrong. The band are pretty much typical for the genre however, even having a female violinist for the relatively soft progginess of Memories Never Die. A newer song is played, This Black Veil, having a interesting symphonic tinge to it with heavy usage of keyboards and a great solo partway through that leads into spooky ambience. Emptiness is a sudden blast of heaviness due to two older members joining the band on guitar and bass, a quad-pronged attack moving towards Melodic Death territory as the subtly epic song seems to build towards an icy Blackened finale, before suddenly switching to Doom for the finale. One encore later and that’s the end of the show, family members coming out with the band to say farewell to the small but appreciative crowd.

Criticisms? Few. Some of the camera angles are claustrophobic to say the least, getting right up in the musicians’ faces as often as they show them playing, but it’s a minor issue, and generally the picture is sharp, with great sound. Many larger bands put together much worse DVD packages than this; also included is an audio CD of the main concert, and in the bonus section of the DVD is an acoustic show, a documentary showing the band’s history (thankfully with subtitles for those of us who don’t speak Dutch – it’s always amazing how many times something as simple as this is forgotten, so kudos to band and label) that’s interesting even to an outsider for the easygoing and friendly relationship between members. One moment where the band, at a clearly small gig, sang to an audience member on her birthday summed it all up for me, and perhaps this is an unfair thing to come away from after a single DVD, but Morphia seemed like genuinely nice people. Bands like this are the bread-and-butter of the European Metal scene; whilst they may never get fame and fortune or even write a truly original song, they are playing the music they love to people who share that love, and the disbanding of such a group of people willing to sacrifice their time for Metal knowing full well that the rewards are few is always a shame. They’re not the best band you’ll ever hear, but they have passion, and as a document of that passion One Last Embrace is more than excellent.

Killing Songs :
Again, Memories Never Die, This Black Veil
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