Morgul Blade and SONJA bring fell sorcery to the South

Written By Scott Belzer | February 21st, 2023

 Nazgul hunt with ill intent 
Try to flee but your will is spent 
Your body seized 
You are afraid 
Your flesh is pierced by the Morgul Blade

This is the first verse off Morgul Blade’s 2021 debut LP, Fell Sorcery Abounds. If they come across as over-the-top, drenched in Tolkien lore, and just generally badass, it’s because they are.

Morgul Blade pummels listeners with a sound forged by titans like Manowar, Eternal Champion, and Visigoth. It begins in a deep, dark dungeon, moves to the back of a galloping steed, and soars to the heights of a carrion bird above a raging battlefield. Just when you think the band has traversed every single sonic landscape, the barrage begins yet again. It’s hard to pigeonhole a band as dynamic as Morgul Blade, but “blackened-heavy-fantasy-death-tinged-rock-and-roll” is what comes to mind.

The band’s strength lies in packaging its sound in a cohesive, meat-and-potatoes heavy metal package. You’ll be so busy banging your head to thundering rhythms, shredding along to soaring guitar solos, and lending your ear to the album’s Lord of the Rings narrative that you won’t even realize Fell Sorcery Abounds’ 38-minute runtime has passed. By that time, you’ll also be ready to don a suit of armor, wield the closest bastard sword and charge into battle.

It only makes sense that Morgul Blade is storming the south with SONJA, another exciting Philadelphia heavy metal act that’s hit the ground running.

Photo by Don Vincent Ortega

SONJA’s 2022 album, Loud Arriver, doesn’t hail from the death-stricken fields of Gorgoroth (the LOTR locale, not the band), but from the neon lights of an 80s leather bar. 

The album’s opener, “When the Candle Burns Low,” slowly envelops listeners in a soundscape straight out of Def Leppard’s Hysteria. Melissa Moore’s beautiful vocals soar high above her pounding, perfectly toned (and expertly played) guitar, enticing listeners to “Go where we go – go where the witches go.” For the rest of Loud Arriver, you’ll be convinced you’re walking a dark, lonely street from 1984’s The Terminator. The album’s catchiest singles, “Nylon Nights” and “Pink Fog,” are great examples of the band having fun with its own heavy metal sensibilities, whereas “Wanting Me Dead” and “Fuck, Then Die” feel more personal lyrically.

While playful and wrapped up in an 80s nightclub package, SONJA is clearly a deeply personal project. It’s crafted with such care for its songwriting, and with so much love for the genre, that you can’t help but feel connected to its message. It’ll also make you want to immediately buy a leather jacket. And maybe some matching chaps. And a whip. After all, we’ve gone where the witches go. 

Morgul Blade and SONJA are storming Bogg’s Social & Supply on March 19 with support from Crossed Hearts and Moonlust.

Crossed Hearts is Atlanta’s own offering to the new wave of heavy metal currently taking listeners by storm. The shredding guitar from Daniel Lerch and Alvaro Garcia combines well with Carlee Jackson’s vocal range, and when added to the galloping rhythms of drummer Amos Rifkin and bassist Matt Mills, listeners are in for a good time.

Atlanta’s Moonlust takes heavy metal and adds its own western fuzz into the mix. There’s a punky, psychedelic grunge in the band’s distorted melodies. There’s a gritty edge to Major Leigh’s passionate vocals. It’s straight to the point, overwhelmingly rockin’, and just as sure to make you scoot your boots as it is to make you bang your head.

-Scott Belzer