Morgarten – “Cry of the Lost”


Six long years ago, Morgarten exploded onto the folk metal scene with Risen to Fight, a great album filled with a mix of folk, black, and near symphonic metal and now six years later, the band picks up essentially where they left off, giving us an album with an undeniably heavy, yet melodic mix of folk metal with black, death, and symphonic metal elements.

Morgarten trace their roots all the way back to 2005 when they began touring Europe. The band’s name is from the Battle of Morgarten which took place in 1315 and happened in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. When Risen to Fight came out, I reviewed the album and was struck with the mix of folk, black, and symphonic elements …a great debut for sure. By the time this album was sent to me, now in 2021, I had long forgotten about Morgarten, which is a loss on my part, but thankfully I have this reminder.

For Cry of the Lost, Morgarten pulled in some heavyweights for recording, mixing and mastering with David Castillo (Carcass, Opeth, Leprous) taking recording duties, Jens Bogren (Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, Amon Amarth) handling the mixing and Tony Lindgren (Opeth, Eluveitie, Sepultura) handling the mastering. Basically, an ideal cast to capture everything that Morgarten bring with their sound. Similar to Risen to Fight, the band created a concept album that is essentially a novel that tells the story of the hero Arnold von Wilkelreid, covering his hopes, fights, doubts, despair, and peace.

“Frères d’Armes” opens up the album and immediately informs the listener that there will be folk metal. Translated to “Brothers in Arms”, we hear in the intro track what could be an army marching into battle singing in unison singing along with the cadence in the marching. Appropriately, perhaps, “To Victory” is the next song and this is where the symphonic and black metal elements come in. I’m instantly reminded a bit of bands like Antestor in how the song opens, but then there is a shift when the vocals come in, the raspy black metal vocals that are a bit unexpected given everything heard so far. With the chorus, we hear the strong voices much like those in bands like Wind Rose, a bit of a medieval choir-like feel. While all of this is going on, the guitars and drums race along at breakneck speed accented by the atmospheric keyboards. There is a lot going on in this song and yes, even some blast beats, and with the arrangement, it works.

“Tales of My Lands” has a bit more of a folk metal feel to it with the opening guitar lead that carries through much of the song. That guitar lead dominates much of sound at times, works incredibly well with the vocals and fades into the background for other parts and then there are the parts where you have only acoustic strings providing the sounds to carry the song. Much like other songs on the album, everything here has an epic, larger-than-life feel to it making it seem like this is a full band backed by a full orchestra that just happens to have a bagpipe player. Morgarten manages to combine all of these elements into one track without having it seem like they are relying on them as a gimmick.

“First Blood” returns me to the days of old Antestor and symphonic black metal and there are a lot of similarities here. Again, the lead guitar working in unison with the vocals is an element that really fits this style and is used exceedingly well. The interplay between the guitars and orchestral parts at the end of the song has quite an impact.

The next three songs, “Sons of Darkness”, “Oath of Allegiance”, and “Peaceful Soul of the Dying” all open with different parts for the Medieval chorus like elements which would bring comparisons to bands like Wind Rose, but the black metal vocals certainly differentiate the songs from there as do the black metal and symphonic elements. “Peaceful Soul of the Dying” is the song that stays the longest away from any black metal like elements but it too heads into that category even if the pace of the song is much more plodding and grinding.

“Die or Fight” probably is the one track that at least opens up the most uniquely compared to the others and if this was the first track you heard, you may be expecting some more straight-ahead death metal but it too heads toward the symphonic black metal before returning at times to a near groove death metal riff and even incorporating a near breakdown in the middle of the track. Similarly, after the guitar solo in “Dawning of the Reborn” the clean guitars and chorus provide a bit of a welcome relief from the metal onslaught and this peaceful interlude reminds me a bit of the genius in the band Malchus who manage to incorporate such sections into their melodic death metal.

Fittingly, the album closes with “Meeting the Almighty” a song where the band seems to pull out all the stops and bringing in many different elements and styles from the other songs on the album. Guitars and drums are heavy and driving, while the keyboards provide that added depth and texture that adds to the impact of the song without getting in the way of the other instruments. Meanwhile the raspy, black metal vocals have an added air of urgency that add to the epic feel of the track.

Morgarten again have provided a bit of a unique take on the folk metal genre bringing in black and symphonic elements but incorporating them into the songs in such a way that no matter what musical twists and turns the song takes, everything works. The album is full of catchy hooks and driving rhythms and makes use of the folk elements directly and indirectly in the song construction. Six years is a long time to wait for an album, but Morgarten have shown us with Cry of the Lost that sometimes good things come to those who wait.

Rating: 9/10

Written by John Jackson


  1. Frères d’Armes
  2. To Victory
  3. Tales of My Lands
  4. First Blood
  5. Sons of Darkness
  6. Oath of Allegiance
  7. Peaceful Soul of the Dying
  8. Die or Fight
  9. Backed to a Flayed Tree
  10. Dawning of the Reborn
  11. The Last Breath
  12. Meeting the Almighty

Band Members
Ilann – Guitar, backing vocals
Pierric – Vocals, guitar, bagpipes
Cédric – Bass, backing vocals
Joël – Drums
Maël – Keyboards

Release Date: 18 June 2021

Record Label: Inner Wound Recordings

2015: “Risen to Fight” (review)
2021: “Cry of the Lost”

Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Bandcamp

Lyric video for ‘Tales of My Lands’

Video for ‘To Victory’

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