Morphelia - Waken The Nightmare

Year of Release: 2009
Label: Vossphor Records
Catalog Number: -
Format: CD
Total Time: 117:15:00

In 2009 I did not get many new releases; but, just at the closing of the year, I was pointed to a German band, Morphelia. This band released their second album, Waken The Nightmare, and I was told it was very good. So when I got the album in the first week of the new year, I was very anxious to hear it.

When I just looked at the album, I was already impressed by the luxurious package and the great artwork. Waken The Nightmare is no less than a double CD. So, with a certain amount of high expectations, I played the album ... and played it again ... and again... Believe me, for a week, I could not put away this album. I played it at home, in my car and even had it on my mp3 player, to enjoy while cycling to work.

With almost two hours of music, Waken The Nightmare has very much to offer, a wide variety of styles and influences. Classic prog, neo prog, prog metal, folk, it is all there, waiting to be explored. Despite its length, the band manages to keep the listener involved in the music and the story. The story of the album -- it is a concept album -- was written by the singer, Kurt Stwrtetschka, and describes a nightmare he had when he was a young boy. A nightmare about a lost soul, Elias; an evil captain, Imaginos; and a house with 365 windows. This story is spread over the 13 tracks.

Disc one opens very melodic with "Walk Through The Park," a real prog song, immediately displaying the band's ability to not only write a good song, but also play it well. One thing I did notice: the singer. Kurt Stwrtetschka sings with an obvious German accent. Fortunately, while the album unfolds, I found I did not notice it that much anymore. Not that it was gone, but I found that somehow his voice fit the music.

As it is a concept album, many songs flow over into the next one. They have found a nice balance in the heavier and softer parts. For example, "Hunt In The Hall" has a heavier guitar in it, but still a lot of melody. This is an up tempo song with great guitar riffs, but also a very solid rhythm backbone and ... a genuine Hammond!

To enhance the feeling that you are actually in the story while listening to the album, the band has added several sound effects, like squeaking doors, breaking glass, and much more. It is never annoying, but sometimes surprising. One of my personal favourites is "In The Captain's Room," which opens with a door opening and footsteps and then a beautiful melody and a chorus that will stick in your head. And again the Hammond...

"With Never Ending Steps," the first song comes that gives me mixed emotions. Here I hear a familiar part from "Message In A Bottle" by The Police. It is followed by a crunchy guitar riff that for some reason also sounds like I have heard it before. For me this takes away the magic a bit that I felt on the album. In the end of the song, they repeat this, but fortunately the song has a great middle section and it ends on a high note. The influence of another bands is similarly present in "365 Windows (From The Inside Looking Out)": Metallica's "Enter Sandman," albeit it toned down a bit. But the guitar could have been James Hetfield! But again, in the second half the familiar (at least by now) Morphelia sound returns.

Don't get me wrong: these are not bad songs, but I just find the influences a bit too much. Fortunately it is not too long and the band manages to keep me interested. And, I have to admit, they have incorporated these references very well!

The song in between these, "Blue Chamber," is an interesting one. Here the band adds a bit of folk with a very medieval sounding song; Stwrtetschka manages to sing in an almost English way. Very nice! Of course the harpsichord sound also adds to the folky atmosphere.

"Mirror Labyrinth" is also one of my favourite songs: fantastic synths by Gunther Gruenebast and then the shredding guitar by Guido Froelich ... that's just how I like them! Again a more up-tempo song here, with a more heavy rhythm. Disc one ends with the softer "From The Room Of Silence," a really beautiful song.

So far I am deeply impressed with Morphelia! But ... they have a lot more to enjoy...

So on to Disc two. Here we find only four songs, but the last two clock in at 15 and almost 30 minutes, respectively! "Imaginos" opens with haunting keys by Gruenebast and then bursts into a very symphonic song, with a catchy, pulsating rhythm by the combo of Renk Rickerts (bass) and Elmar de Groot (drums), the very solid rhythm backbone of the band. This is absolutely one of the highlights of the album, filled with drama and mystery.

Bassist Rickerts finally gets some spotlight in "On The Roof," where he rocks away. This is again a very catchy song. No doubt this will be a live favourite! There's a chorus that will make you sing along, pounding bass, and then a great guitar solo. Morphelia finds a way to put a lot in a song, without giving the feeling it is too much. One great solo is followed by another; in "On The Roof" two guitar solos, a great keyboard solo and a bass solo ... well, sort of.

Often a band adds an epic song at the end of the album. Morphelia, ambitious as they are, adds two. And you'd better be ready, as this is really great stuff. They've already shown that they can write strong songs, but just listen to "In The Hall Of Stormy Oceans" and feel the emotion and magic that radiates from this song! This is progressive rock at its best. You really have to listen for it yourself, but I think this song alone will make you fall in love with the music of Morphelia!

And then the last song, 27 minutes and 17 seconds ... An ambient opening reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." Kudos to Gunther Gruenebast for this, it sounds stunning. The band slowly builds this song: the keys, followed by Guido Froelich adding some sweet guitar; a solo that would impress David Gilmour, no doubt. Despite its length, the song keeps the attention of the listener and there is so much to discover and it just sucks you in. But, as with all nightmares, in the end there is the rude awakening when the door is closed.

After almost two hours, I am left with one thought: I must hear this again! Believe me, from the moment I got the album, I could not bring myself to listen to anything else. This is a brilliant album, despite a few lesser moments. And Morphelia is a brilliant band, a group of solid musicians that play extremely well and coherent. And despite that all members are amazing, I must admit that Guido Froehlich (guitars) and Gunther Gruenebast steal the show!

Note that the band has done everything themselves: wrote, performed, recorded, mixed and produced the album, and released in on their own label. Only the artwork was not done by them. A very impressive release that has raised the bar hopefully not too high. But based on what I heard and read in the booklet, I can say Waken The Nightmare is a must have album. Despite the title and the theme, it is far from a nightmare, but rather a beautiful dream, one you wish it would never end. And fortunately one you can always return to! I am only so glad I discovered this band and will definitely check out their debut release, Prognocircus, as this tastes for more. Waken The Nightmare will get a rightfully deserved place among the likes of IQ's Subterranea and Pendragon's The World.

Disc One: Walk Through The Park / The En-Trance (From The Outside Coming In) / Hunt In The Hall / In The Captain's Room / Never-Ending Steps / Blue Chamber / 365 Windows (From The Inside Looking Out) / Mirror Labyrinth (Lost In The Way) / From The Room Of Silence

Disc Two: Imaginos (A Taste Of Evil) / On The Roof (A Taste Of Freedom) / In The Hall Of Stormy Oceans / The End Is The Beginning Of The End (From The Inside Coming Out)

Kurt Stwrtetschka - vocals
Guido Froelich - guitars, backing vocals
Gunter Gruenebast - synthesizers, organ
Renko Rickerts - bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Elmar de Groot - drums and percussion

Prognocircus (2003)
Waken The Nightmare (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: January 20th 2010
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 9468
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]