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From Darkness To Disgust: A History of Morpheus

- Friday, October 17, 2008

   Today, the 17th of October, 2008, marks the official 11th anniversary of the inception of Morpheus, a band that was permanently put to rest a little over a year ago. In honor of this date, I am going to give a brief history of the band, as I remember it.

   While I began making “music” (mixes of brief necrophiliac songs interspersed with am radio noise and samples) under the pseudonym of Morpheus in the Summer of 1997, a few months prior to the October 17th birth date, it was on the official date that I invited John Ellis, Jr., aka. Spanky Payne, then going by the stage name False Einstein, (so named for a particularly prided lack of intelligence) to join Morpheus and form a real band. Let me begin a little further back.

   For a little over a year, I had been playing guitar in a two-person industrial metal band called Caution with vocalist and keyboardist Soulburn. In the summer of 1997, around the same time I started a solo side project called Morpheus, Soulburn and I decided to open up to other members. John came in on bass, friend Josh Meighan joined as an additional guitarist, and Kyle L’Esperance was being courted as a possible drummer. We’d practice a small set and booked ourselves a Battle of the Bands style gig. The night before the gig, Soulburn decided he did not want to do it and dissolved the band. The rest of us decided to start a new band Flail Chest. After a few months of practice and song writing, we booked a girl’s birthday party as our first gig. This was the infamous October 17th set that is considered to be the first Morpheus show. No members of Flail Chest showed up aside from John and myself. Determined to still carry on, we played our set just guitars, vocals and bass with numerous samples and much destruction. That night, angry at everyone else, we ended Flail Chest and I invited john into Morpheus.

   While Necrosex is the eldest Morpheus song, having written it prior to John joining, the first song we wrote together was Chastities. I wrote the music and we wrote the lyrics together. Chastities was a heavy but slow tribute to a quite promiscuous friend of ours, Chasity, whom was in possession of rather pleasing endowments. That theme of sexual deviance soon mixed with gothic overtones, destructive tendencies and a strong anti-Christian sentiment to create the original Morpheus sound. Musical styles ranged from angry punk to simple thrash metal and experimental industrial. This sound lasted for the first few Morpheus cassette releases Systematic Release {1997), Abyss of Lust (1998), and el Nino de Luzbel (1998). Between 1997 and 1999, we played many small house-party shows for tiny crowds and amassed a reputation for utter destruction, crowd abuse and pure sadistic fun. Inspired by the ineffable GWAR, we took stage “slaves.” These ‘slaves’ were fans who would come up on stage and beat each other up while we played. We would also abuse them. They were typically led by a female slave who would go by the stage name ‘Dead Angel’. The most memorable incident was when we created a large wooden cross, laid it on the ground, littered broken glass over it and tied a slave down on it. We proceeded to spit and bleed on him. Our stage acts would lead to us being banned from playing all over town and picking up a reputation. Between 1998 and 1999, John dropped his second stage name, Anal Buttfuck, and began going by the moniker he would hold on to, Spanky Seamen Payne.

   Somewhere in 1999, we picked up drummer Wharg0ul and recorded the final, heaviest and best version of Chastities to date and a thrash piece called Fuck You. Eventually, the Wharg0ul moved west and things slowed down. We didn’t record again until 2000.

   The first year of the new millennium was a transitional period for Morpheus. The old sound was left behind and we explored noise metal and relentless thrash sounds. A CD-R demo release was recorded featuring the beginning of this direction, and later a three-way split CD-R with CHUNK and Insane Brutal Nonsense solidified it. Between 1999 and 2001, Morpheus passed through so many changes in attitude and sound that it was barely recognizable as the same band anymore. All measure of darkness left the feel of the music, being replaced by chaos and depravity.

   In 2001, John and I picked up an off-and-on former member Peter “Spaz” Bolster (Peter Belial of Torrents of Death) to make the rotation (no one had an assigned position; we all switched around) three. We booked ourselves a Battle of the Bands style gig and, the day of the show, Peter had to leave for a family emergency. On the spot, we convinced local kid Ben Bushman to fill the shoes. The set was fun and chaotic. Ben practiced with us a few times but eventually lost interest and faded out. That’s where Rob The Dead came in.

   Rob The Dead had been in local thrash/grunge band Twisted Chaos and had some drumming experience. He took the helm and rounded out what would be the definitive Morpheus line up for the next five years. We wrote a slew of new songs, played loads of local shows and had a lot of fun. Though we did the switching act for most of the time, I began spending the bulk of time on guitar, Rob with drums, and John became a front man. We played the first Punk in the Park mini-festival, organized by The Scams guitarist Mike Wierzbicki (now Mikey X of Fight Back). Toward the end of 2001, Morpheus came to a screeching halt.

   Growing personal problems between John and myself culminated in a heated argument, resulting in John declaring the band broken up. In the months to follow, John started various side projects with Rob and the denizens of John’s house, the infamous 107 Granger. It was in this period that Rob formed Psychotic Assault with Matt O’Brien. I played a “More Fee Us” set with a returned Wharg0ul on drums consisting of a few Morpheus songs reworked into death metal and a pair of lengthy death metal jams. My most notable project in that period was a blackened death metal three-piece called Black Chapel. This consisted of myself, Peter Belial and Wharg0ul. While we never played any gigs, we had an ep’s worth of material written and practiced. Eventually, Wharg0ul moved west again and Black Chapel dissolved. In the summer of 2002, as I got ready to move to Burlington, VT, John approached me to reform Morpheus. I agreed and we did so just in time to play the second Punk in the Park mini-festival, this time organized by Tommy of Send More Cops. We played many local and backyard shows. Most notable of that year was the Halloween set played in the local parade on a dolly attached to a pickup truck. We were powered by a loud gasoline generator and went crazy.

   This tradition and pattern continued for the next few years. Each year was highlighted by the subsequent Punk in the Park sets (which John and I were organizing) in the summer and the Halloween parade. I had moved back to Rutland, VT and John moved out to Grafton, VT. In 2006, we picked up bass player Mike O’Holic, also of Broken Mindz. Practices and shows became few and far between. Spanky started forming side projects, Rob began focusing more on Psychotic Assault, and I eventually joined Psychotic Assault. This caused a lot of tension between John and myself, he reacting with jealousy towards the decision. I eventually began paying a lot more attention to Psychotic Assault as well, itself being a much more organized and active band, perhaps justifying some of the jealousy.

   The final Morpheus show took place on November 10th, 2006 in Gloucester, MA at The Art Space with The Jabbers and the Jonee Earthquake Band. John did some speed with The Jabbers before the set and Mike was good and drunk. Rob and I played a relatively tight set but, for the most part, John’s vocal timing was far off.
Incredibly angry, Rob and I decided that this just wasn’t worth it anymore. For the next month we bounced around the idea of ending Morpheus. Personal differences between myself and John were mounting again. Eventually, it came to a head and John once more broke up Morpheus. This time, I was resolved to not go back. Morpheus had been dying for a long time and needed to be put to rest. It was over. It was one hell of a ride, but it could go no further. It is over. It will never be again.

   I would like to take a bit to thank those who helped us out in some way over the years. First and foremost, I want to thank John and Rob. After that: Whore-God the slave, Dead Angel (all of ’em), Josh Macabre, Jock Itch, Kyle, Lucy Skullfukkr, the whores of Hatezine, Wharmaster, Soulburn, Heidi Fallen Angel, Alex Balls, Mike O’Holic, Broken Mindz, Send More Cops, Jonee Earthquake and his band, Thorn, Mikey X, The Scams, Forest, Klara Raven, Flowers In The Attic, Josh Larose, all the bands we’ve played with, all the slaves we’ve beaten, all the people who’ve drank with us or blown us, all the groupies and fans we ever had and anyone who ever came to our shows. You made the ride what it was. Thanks.

RIP. Morpheus
b.1997 d.2007
“I am the nightmare.”

The Official Morpheus Website.b{font-weight: bold;}.i{font-style: italic;}.u{text-decoration: underlined;}

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