I've posted about Morpheus Rising before, when the five-piece from York released their first single An Ordinary Man to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes. Fabulous cause and a great song, so do go and download it. Recently they sent me a five-track CD, The Original Demos 2008 and I've been giving it a listen.
Morpheus Rising is NWOBH - The New Generation. Brainchild of guitarist Pete Harwood, who has worked with the likes of The Human League and Marillion, these guys list the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon and Diamond Head among their influences.
In the best traditions of NWOBHM, they combine lyrical story-telling, soaring guitars, a solid bass line, and pounding drums with strong vocals that have a good level of clarity. The production is better than is frequently the case with demos without sounding overproduced, and the balance of the various elements of the bands is very good.
Opener Fighting Man has a particularly strong bass, almost acting as a counterpoint to the driving rhythms of the drums. It starts off as a bit of a slow burn, but when the guitars take off there's almost a touch of Dragonforce about the riffing.
Next up is Save The Day which opens with stunning riffing and the guitar rhythms dictate the pace throughout, easing off a bit for the verses then upping the tempo again in between. The bass takes a bit of a backseat here but is still carrying a solid line in the background and the drums are particularly well well done. Works terrifically well and I think would make for a great live track.
Those Who Watch was a bit of a surprise, and shows Morpheus Rising as capable of mixing things up a bit. It's very atmospheric, slightly otherworldly with synths underscoring the piece to give it that ethereal air. The guitars retain the solid rhythms, although slightly toned down, and work well as a contrast. There's also echoing, harmonising vocals adding to the otherworldy feel. It's very melodic and a fabulous piece of work.
In The End features a brief sparkle of duelling guitars which adds a bit of depth in places. I believe I'm right in thinking that there was only the one guitarist for these recordings and definitely think the second will round out the sound a bit more. It feels unfinished though in the way it fades out.
Lords Of The North is a monster, diving into the realm of mythology and ages past, telling tales of invasions, war and blood. Again playing with harmonised vocals, and featuring some great riffing with particularly heavy bass this track has something quite special about it that I'm not quite able to put my finger on.
Morpheus Rising has made all five tracks available as free downloads on Last.fm, ReverbNation, iLike, Facebook and Bandcamp BUT at a lower quality than the bought tracks, which can be found on iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody and 7Digital Indiestore. For those like me who like having a physical CD in hand, there is also a limited run of 250 CDs available from the band's website. You can also check them out on myspace. Go have a look and a listen - I think you'll like them.