“Eximius Humanus” is the second album by York-based metal/hard rock five-piece Morpheus Rising, funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The electronic openings and industrial riff of “Superhuman” throw the listener a bit of a curve ball at the very start, but it’s the big riff of the second number “Looking for Life” that sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s old-school twin-guitar metal at its core, with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest as the strongest influences, with a bit of goth atmospherics and progressive rock textures for good measure. The whole thing is anchored in solid songcraft. “Day One” with it’s AOR-flavoured vocal harmonies is a bit of a departure, and a real highlight is “Bending Light” with Pete Harwood’s e-bow solo, a sound you don’t hear much on metal albums.
The twin guitars of Pete Harwood and Damien Sweeting remain at the heart of the sound. Their contrasting styles work well together, Harwood’s melodic textured playing complements Sweeting’s flashier pyrotechnics. With new drummer Nigel Durham, once in Saxon, alongside Mostly Autumn bassist Andy Smith, the new-look rhythm section has a solid power and groove. At times it makes you wonder whether Mostly Autumn are making full use of Andy Smith’s talents.
But it’s vocalist Si Wright who has really raised his game on this record. The band’s début album consisted largely of material written before he joined the band. This time, with an entire set of songs written to take advantage of his greater range, he has found his voice far more impressively. In an age where rock vocals are expected to be growling, screaming, or flat and gravelly, Si Wright’s performance on this album represents old-school hard rock vocals at their finest. He’s got both a range and power, and a degree of emotional depth.
As a rule, metal bands don’t really do “difficult second albums”, and Eximius Humanus is further evidence of this rule. The album comes over as a stronger statement of intent than their début. Morpheus Rising have given a modern makeover to a sound rooted in great hard rock tradition.
You can pre-order the album now from the Morpheus Rising website.