Yep, here’s another goddamn retro thrash review, because we here at AMG can’t get enough speedy stuff from the 80s. As AMG, F.A.G. and myself have been known to point out, there’s a lot of this stuff slamming around out there, and maybe we don’t need quite so much of it. Bands like HeXen, Bonded by Blood and Degradation all seem like faceless extras in the great play of life. If they don’t show up tomorrow, will anyone notice or care? So, where do Canadian upstarts Mortillery figure into all this metal-thrashing madness? Well, they have a stupid name, a crappily titled debut AND a shitty cover that looks like an ad for a Santeria-themed gay pride parade (valid lifestyle choice; both the voodoo and the other stuff). Oddly enough, it’s a very good thrash album right outta 1988 and borrows aggressively from Laaz Rockit, Forbidden, Powermad, Nuclear Assault and naturally, old Metallica. It managed to overcome my less than enthusiastic stance on retro-thrash of late with its over-the-top, Spinal-Tap-y, “good times are rolling” take on the old days of beer-fueled speed metal. There’s heaping helpings of hyperactive soloing, aggressive riffing, unsubtle, neanderthal drumming and most of all, high-pitched, wailing vocals from frontWOMAN Cara McCuthcen. Yes, she’s a woman in a man’s world and she holds her own quite well (as does bassist Miranda Gladeau). In fact, I didn’t know the vocals were by a female of the woman persuasion until I had spun this several times. She’s got the “thrash vocals” thing down and she’s a joy to listen to. So yeah, it’s another retro-thrash fest. If you just can’t bear that thought, I’ll surely understand, but I’m going to review it anyway because I’m Steel “Fuckin Thrash” Druhm!
From the ripping title track where Ms. Cara repeatedly seems to scream “murder, dead EEL,” you know this is going to verge on a parody of thrash, but it had me grinning like an idiot (I mean, who doesn’t love dead eels? They’re thrashilicious). “Sacrifice” has an infectious, quasi-punk approach with some engaging riffing, and Cara really strains her pipes to hit some wild screams and growls. There’s also a great run away solo that reminds me of old school Metallica fused with a Misfits vibe. “Fritzi’s Cellar” has a party-time, festive sound and zips along in a catchy, breezy blur (despite the subject matter about murdering children). Another wicked track is “Outbreak,” which has Cara belting out such thought-provoking lines as “outbreak of FeeeeeYAAAA!!!” as the guitars do the metal-polka as only thrash bands can. The solo at 2:51 is so painfully Kirk Hammet circa Kill Em All, it’ll bring a tear to your metal eye (consult a physician if tears of metal last four hours or more – unless you’re in Manowar).
The lengthy “Voracious Undead” is welcome, since any thrash album without a song about ravenous zombies is, quite frankly, incomplete. The chant of “we want your brains” makes it a no-brainer (sorry) for the soundtrack of any future remake of Return of the Living Dead and it’s a rollicking good time to boot. Cara stretches her wings a bit on “Without Weapons” and combines thrash shouts with clean singing, which results in a hooky chorus and a welcome change of pace. Lastly, “Mortal Artillery” has a pleasantly choppy punk-fury attack over which Cara seduces us with tales of sweaty leather…and artillery.
The success of Mortillery rest evenly on the vocal prowess of Ms. Cara and shredders Alex Scott and Alex Guitierez. Cara gives her all on every track and loads them up with screams, roars and even death rasps. She tends to live at a higher-register wail that sounds a lot like a young Mark Osegueda (Death Angel) mixed with John Connelly (Nuclear Assault) and a sprinkling of Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys). Thankfully, she changes it up enough so it doesn’t become annoying or tedious. The solos by Alex and Alex are generally wild, exciting and enthusiastic as hell. While they aren’t as talented as the guys in Havok or HeXen, they can surely play and their fret-work brings to mind the greats of the golden age of thrash. Making things even better, there’s a loose, tongue-in-cheek vibe to everything and you just know the band has fun playing these tunes.
I know this will fall on many deaf ears, but maybe there’s room for just ONE MORE retro thrash album in your life (queue AMG booing and throwing Swedish meatballs). For me at least, Mortillery is a refreshing burst of thrashing lunacy that’s totally unoriginal but still hooked me in, despite my being dead set against adopting anymore 80s thrash. Forget the other stuff, this is more 80s than Miami Vice and Members Only jackets, but much less embarrassing. I look forward to MORE-tillery! (sorry again).