Mortillery // Origin of Extinction
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Rethrash with class
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: mortillery.com | myspace.com/mortillery | facebook.com/mortillery
Release Dates: EU: Out now! NA: 03.12.2013
In the sea of mediocre re-thrash that was 2012, the unheralded debut by Canadian upstarts Mortillery was one of the few life rafts of quality. Murder, Death, Kill was tongue-in-cheek fun and had all the flavor of the second wave of ’80s thrash while incorporating just enough traditional metal and punk elements to keep things interesting. You could feel the youthful exuberance and hunger in the band’s music and they greatly benefited from the exception vocals of Cara McCutchen and the axe slinging acumen of Alex Scott and Alex Guitierrez. Here on their sophomore outing, they sound roughly the same, with the main influences being Slayer, D.R.I., and Death Angel, but with significant nods to early Overkill and Wargasm. They also sound considerably more mature, polished and focused than they did on the debut. The song structures are a bit more thought out, the dynamics are more varied and there’s plenty of growth on display, though I’m not sure how much is required from a band determined to sound like it’s still 1987. Still, Origin of Extinction succeeds due to the band’s energy and sincerity and they make an overdone style about as fun as it’s going to be thirty years after its creation. That’s all Steel Druhm can ask for at this point, and Motillery knows the drill.
The opening salvo is a two-minute plus instrumental intro entitled “Battle March,” and where lengthy lead-ins are not my thing, I really like the blend of stadium rock soloing, melodic leads and Slayer-esque “Raining Blood” riffs. It really takes me back to the ’80s [You’re old! - AMG] and sets the table for what’s to come. “No Way Out” opens with melodic guitar-work (that reminds me of Whiplash‘s Ticket to Mayhem material) and makes you wait for the thrash explosion (which is odd, since that’s what the intro was for). Once it hits, you only get “mid-tempo thrash” and it’s very retrained, sounding more akin to speedy traditional metal like Exciter, Abattoir or Attacker than true thrash. Despite the lack of thrashing rage, it’s a good song with a lot of hooky riffs, a memorable chorus and Cara continues to impress as she screams, sings, grunts and rasps her heart out. Her commanding tone puts many of her male ilk to absolute shame and I love the power she brings to the table. They finally kick things into thrashing gear with “Cease to Exist,” and in between the Slayer style riffing, they inject a ton of swaggering, saucy attitude into the guitar-work (the leads and solos are quite impudent).
Ditties like “Creature Possessor” and “Seen in Death” supply plenty of balls-out speed and pissed off attitude and Cara’s shouts sound a lot like D.R.I.‘s Kurt Brecht (and even Cirith Ungol‘s Tim Baker). The best moments come with the super hooky chorus in “The Hunter’s Lair” and my personal favorite, the highly amusing, antisocial anthem that is “F.O.A.D.” Cara drops more F-bombs than you’d hear during a West Baptist Church parade through Fort Bragg, and this is clearly a homage to the Overkill classic, “Fuck You.” Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about a chick in leather screaming profanities that I just can’t resist. A highly catchy, totally tongue-in-cheek, instant classic you’ll find yourself singing at all the wrong times.
Origin isn’t without lesser moments, and both “Feed the Fire” and “Maniac” are a bit underwhelming, though they don’t quite hit filler status. Another potential stumbling block is the overall heaviness, which isn’t as high as on some thrash albums. Mortillery play their instruments very well and they infuse most of the songs with engaging solos and surprisingly tasteful segues. It makes for a fun trip, but takes away from the sheer power.
As with the last album, Cara is the star of the circus. She has a very diverse voice and rambles all over the map. She can sing and scream much like Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), shout and roar like the aforementioned Mr. Brecht, and some of her ear-splitting high notes are close to Erik A.K.s back in the early days of Flotsam and Jetsam. She even tosses in some Angela Gossow styled death grunts for emphasis. Making sure Cara has the right platform to slobber over, Alex Scott and Alex Guttierrez let it all hang out from an axe perspective. Scott has a lot of interesting solos and he and Guitierrez come up with many respectable, though naturally derivative thrash riffs, mostly from the Slayer playbook.
Worth noting is the old timey production, which sounds great, but has a lot of the vintage “Carl Canedy sound.” That means it’s a bit clunky and soupy, but in a metal way. If you ever heard Overkill‘s Feel the Fire, Anthrax‘s Spreading the Disease or Possessed‘s Beyond the Gates, you know of which I speak.
Mortillery is one of my favorite rethrash acts and I’m enjoying this as much as their debut. They’re improving as writers and musicians and adding more elements to their sound to keep things from getting stale, and there’s only a moderate loss of angry thrash in the process. That’s a win in my book. Give this a spin, if only to appreciate Cara’s enthusiastic performance. Remember, thrash never dies, it just hires Paul Bostaph and/or Jon Dette.