The last couple of years have revealed tons of very exciting young bands. This is epecially true for the vast lands of the US. The seed is sprouting and one of this very young bands is Philly four-piece Morgul Blade, who have released a very promising EP in 2019. I talked with guitarist and vocalist Lord Klauf and rumours have spread that there might be something on its way…
Hey Klauf, I’m glad to have you here. How are you all doing? Did the pandemic have a big impact on you as a band and on what you had planned for this year?
Lord Klauf: Hello! Thanks for having us. We are well, busy putting the finishing touches on the new album. Unfortunately, yes the pandemic threw a huge wrench in our cogs this year (same with most people), we were not able to get into our rehearsal studio to practice for about 4 straight months earlier this year. That being said, we used the time to write 75% of this album, so it wasn’t totally wasted. That in tandem with myself breaking an ankle on the football pitch, delayed our album by about 4 months, but it will be finished any day now.
According to the Metal Archives, Morgul Blade (officially) was formed in 2018. What or who inspired you to form a band? And how did Morgul Blade come together?
So myself and the bassist, Dan, were in a Doom Metal band called MOTA for several years leading up to the founding of Morgul Blade. It was fun, and we experienced mild success on the local level. Some shows, a short tour, and one EP. We quickly grew tired of playing slow music and weed worship tunes. At this point I recruited Jep, who has been one of my best friends since high school, and we cut a very early, very rough demo of “The Five Ride Out At Dawn” and decided to keep writing music. I wanted to write music that evokes a sense of wonder and creates an immersive experience. Morgul Blade became the vessel for that to happen. The first song of the EP “Sons of the Night” was a MOTA song that I had written and then retooled for use in Morgul Blade.
One thing that immediately stands out when listening to your music is that you combine elements of various genres. A description I find very fitting is “Heavy Metal riffs meet Black Metal vocals”. Why did you choose this style? Who have been your biggest inspirations? How would you describe your music yourself?
HA! Yes, I think that is a fair and fitting description, though I’d like to add in elements of Punk Rock into our song structure, due to our rudimentary nature. The Black Metal vocals came from the fact that I cannot sing melodically, AT ALL. I also am a huge fan of 2nd wave Scandinavian Black Metal, like Windir, Ulver, etc, and the atmosphere that these bands manage to create. I also take a lot of the basic song structures from Bathory’s viking era (Hammerheart is my favorite album of all time.) Finally Dan, who does the clean Christopher Lee-esque vocals you hear, volunteered to try singing. The 2 vocal styles really just juxtaposed so well and we decided to roll with it. I am also inspired by the riffage which persists among the first wave of Swedish Heavy Metal bands (Parasite, Heavy Load, Tryckvag, Gotham City, etc.).
In my opinion you got some quite epic tunes. How would you define Epic Metal?
I am so glad you asked this because I think the term is a little misleading. To me “Epicness” really is achieved by 3 things. Number one is atmosphere. Our music isn’t the most complicated, and my vision for the band is to achieve a listening experience. Something that takes you to a far off realm, and away from the mundane. Escapism is so so so important when being faced with crushing modernity everyday. Number 2 is lyrical content. We spin tales of Magick and Might, tales of the Forlorn who march to their doom in defense of the kingdom. This works well for us, and it’s all part of the worldbuilding immersion that we try to convey. We don’t limit ourselves to strictly Tolkien based lore as our name would suggest, hell, we even have a song on the new album about a werewolf crisis in Southern France in 1763. Number 3 would be self-conviction to the point of an almost hubris. You can’t convey emotions or wonder in something you yourself don’t believe in. I am a nerd, fantasy is a huge part of my life and upbringing. When all the other kids were going to parties in High School, I was in my basement rolling joints and reading Tolkien and European Folklore. It’s not what most people would choose to do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the Ultimate Epic Battle, an Instagram tournament hosted by Blaze Breeg and Me, you were very unfortunate and had to face of against Manilla Road – the greatest Epic Metal band of all time – already in the very first round. Who would you say are the most influential Epic Metal bands of all time? Which ones are your favorites?
Beating Manilla Road would have been the single greatest upset of all time. Obviously Manilla Road is one of a kind, and beyond groundbreaking, but I don’t think I can say anything about them that hasn’t already been said. The first four Manowar albums to me are the pillars of the style. The first two Candlemass albums are epic as fuck, and I think people forget about them a lot. I also go back to Bathory’s Hammerheart (and Blood on Ice) that album changed my life. Another song that is really important to me, and I think is overlooked is “Achilles Last Stand” by Led Zeppelin themselves. It’s Proto Trad Metal at its finest. Pagan Altar is also super important to me. As far as newer bands go, Atlantean Kodex is at the top of the game. Tarot from Australia is really cool. Also the obvious choice is Eternal Champion, but at this point I think that’s more of a universal truth.
At the end of last year, you published your exciting EP “Harbinger’s of Power and the World’s End”. The cassette version, which sold out fast, also featured two demo tracks of your upcoming debut album. What can you tell us about the debut album? What can fans of Morgul Blade expect?
AHHHH you have no idea how excited we are for you all to hear this fucking album. 2020 has been an unyielding maelstrom, but we as a band kept solace in this project. The album is called Fell Sorcery Abounds with artwork featuring WYRMWALK and is juuuuuust about finished up. Next will be mixing and mastering, and then finally the release. It will likely see digital release before physical as we are still working out some details with a potential label. What I can divulge is that it’s going to be 9 songs including an acoustic piece and a larger more composed synth track. We are also going to have a slew of new merch and cool shit to go with it (maybe even a video?). As far as the sound of it goes, you can expect the classic Morgul sound with a little more maturity that exhibits our growth as songwriters and musicians.
As I already said, you only published your debut EP in a cassette version. Especially the Epic Metal community has experienced a revival of the traditional formats, so which format do you prefer, vinyl or tapes?
Tapes. You can’t play Vinyl in the car, haha. (We have to change that! – Divine Victim)
The one thing I miss the most during this pandemic are probably concerts. Have your already played live shows? If you could choose two bands to accompany on a tour, which bands would that be?
We have not played live shows, and are ready to do so when the world is. If were talking bands from every era, then I’d have to pick Bark at the Moon era Ozzy, and Love at First Sting era Scorpions. I can’t imagine being a fly on the wall in those hotel rooms.
Philadelphia, where you come from, is also the home of another young Epic Metal band, Blazon Rite. Do you know them? What can you tell us about the local metal scene?
Yeah, we do know them, lots of mutual friends and I have played shows with the guys in previous bands. Philly is the littlest big town in the world. Everyone knows each other from somewhere. Our Metal community is really great. Sumerlands is from here, and most of the Eternal Champion members live here as well. My very good friends are in a popular band called Devil Master that some of the readers may know, they are blowing up right now.
Although this year was quite horrible, at least musicwise it had a lot good to offer. What are your favorite releases of this year? Any recommendations?
I’m happy to discuss my favorites this year. Other than the obvious in Eternal Champion’s Ravening Iron which is of course fantastic, there are a few that stand out for me. The new Hällas album, Conundrum is fantastic, if you like spacy Prog with a little 70s Hard Rock and Pop thrown in. But the album that I played the most this year without question is Malokarpatan’s March release Krupinské Ohne. It may be the best thing I’ve heard in the past 20 years. Its grim, dark, immersive and magical and borrows elements from Czech Black Metal, like Master’s Hammer, Hammerheart era Bathory, Iron Maiden, and so so so much more. It is truly a masterpiece in my humble opinion. I also am a huge fan of The Wizar’d’s new album, Subterannean Exile. Last but not least from what our brothers in steel Rhygär from Texas have been teasing with their new songs got me super excited to hear the new music they have cooking up.
Thank you for this really thrilling interview! I’m really looking forward to your first full-length album. But until then stay safe and Up the Hammers!
Hail. Thanks for having us. We hope you enjoy our new tales we have spun for you.
Oh I bet we will!