Words: Andrei Pascaru
New York trap metal duo City Morgue, one of the most recognisable names in the underground scene and one of the leaders of contemporary heavy music, have just released their third album after being silent for a while, with their last release being ‘TOXIC BOOGALOO’ in 2020. With this being the third instalment of their popular ‘CITY MORGUE VOLUME’ series – which began in 2018 – the expectations were pretty high, but they’ve delivered something amazing.
The album has the classic City Morgue sound with the use of super-gritty, dark metal guitars, combined with some super-heavy trap-styled production, making it a great choice for anyone that wants something violent. The songs never really get stale, as the guitar lines vary while still maintaining the metal sound and every song has a different bounce to it.
‘BOTTOM OF THE BARREL’ has an intro that sets out what you’ll get from this album: songs that are very loud and hardcore. ‘DEATH CULT INTRO’ is the perfect start, as the song goes from 0 to 100 in less than 15 seconds. The vocal performances are even better than the last two volumes, as both ZillaKami and SosMula are more versatile and comfortable with their presentation. For example, Zilla’s shouted hook on ‘CABIN IN THE WOODS’ is one of the key highlights, with a demonic-like scream that emphasises the horror atmosphere the track is going for. SosMula also delivers on his side, with one his solo tracks ‘OHDEE’ being one of the catchiest and most fun songs to listen to from this album, while lyrically being about what you’d expect from a City Morgue member; killing and selling drugs.
City Morgue have a tradition of putting solo songs on their albums; on this album the solos have felt like the best tracks from both members, each shining in their own way. Zilla’s two tracks fit the theme of the album a lot more, having the rock influence with inspirations such as SlipKnot and Korn; SosMula’s tracks are are more inspired by the hip-hop/trap sound with influences such as Young Thug and Future. Comparing the solo songs from ‘BOTTOM OF THE BARREL’ to their first album, ‘HELL HIGH WATER’, there’s a clear evolution in sound, delivery and lyrics, accentuating how they’re both getting better and closer to their sound as solo artists.
There’s a break from the very hard-hitting songs quite early in the tracklisting as ‘EVERYTHING IS BROKEN’ displays both Zilla and Mula’s vulnerable side with a track that is more monotone and downbeat. Zilla talks about how he’s lost friends in his life, he feels as if he needs someone to help him so he can carry on living because, on his own, he feels hopeless ‘If I lost all hope, would you hope for me?’. Mula talks about his past life and how he was exposed to drugs and a tough lifestyle since he was young – he talks about how he sold drugs at just 12 years old. This track tells the listener a reason as to why City Morgue are the way they are and why they make this music. It’s not that they want to be perceived as “loud” or “violent”, it’s how their past life has affected them. ‘EVERYTHING IS BROKEN’ is a great addition to this album because it gives more of a personal feel to the record and also gives the listener a break from all the heaviness.
This isn’t the first time they’ve recorded sadder tracks. ‘CITY MORGUE VOLUME 2: AS GOOD AS DEAD’ featured four: ‘THE GIVE UP’, ‘PEELING SCABS’, ‘DRAINO’ and ‘THE BALLOONS’. This will be a signature in their records from now on because their fans love the sadder songs and City Morgue know how to sequence them throughout the tracklist so they don’t feel out of place.
To this writer, the album is simply great. From amazing production – coming from frequent collaborators such as Thraxx and Yung Germ, but also with some new names such as Powers Pleasant, Sidtroy and Terrorgav – good vocal deliveries, versatility, consistency, this album is a great listen for anyone who wants to get into the trap metal sound but doesn’t know where to start.
Check out their latest video, ‘What’s My Name’.