This will stand as one of the most random introductions I’ve ever written. But the thought sprung to mind and, now, here we go. I dislike the word “mentor.” But not for reasons you might expect. My dislike for the word has nothing to do with a bad experience as/with a mentor or mentee, or anything else along those lines1. I hate the word because of how it rolls off my tongue. I’ve heard it pronounced as “mentor” and as “menter.” Yet, I’m incapable of saying the word as others around me say it. Instead, my enunciation transforms me into someone from The Great British Baking Show.2 I haven’t a clue why I accent the “o” as much as I do, but I cringe whenever I’m forced to say it. So, thank your lucky stars you only have to read my review of Poland’s Mentor and their black/thrash release, Cults, Crypts and Corpses.3 I could be sitting on your couch reading it to you in person.
That said, I didn’t grab Mentor‘s sophomore release to shit on the poor choice of band names. I grabbed it because their 2016 debut album (Guts, Grave and Blasphemy) kicked my ass. It combines black with thrash, alternating rasps with hardcore barks, and fuses killer breakdowns with Motörhead groove, Celtic Frost chugs, black tremolo fills, and an underlying Southern metal vibe. Go listen to “Gravemaker” and I bet you’ll be as hooked as I. Here’s hoping Cults, Crypts and Corpses kicks my ass, too.
Right away, the dirt starts flying as the band’s instruments transform into picks and spades on “We Dig.” The bludgeoning vox smash in your grandma’s coffin lid and release a pungent, mid-paced chug with rasping, banshee screams. One song later, “Mists of Doom” uses the same kind of chugging, mid-paced transition but, before that, it rocks the graveyard with one of the tastiest riffs on the album. And that’s where the similarities from one track to the next end. Like the band’s debut, Cults, Crypts and Corpses is an assortment of odd influences. Some work, some don’t, but diversity definitely keeps things interesting.
“Death Mask” has an old-school death charge that gives way to a tombstone-shattering death march that tromps to the finale. Follow-up track, “The Wax Nightmare,” uses some higher-pitched “clean” vocals to accelerate the song into sinister Slayer-isms. Then it breaks down into one of the more standout thrash licks on the album. “Churchburner Girl” is a fun Toxic Holocaust twin and the short-but-sweet “Tub of Toxic Waste” bumps and thrashes around in a Ghoul‘s sewer.
But the two most interesting tracks on the album would have to be “Gut Bucket” and closer “Gather by the Grave.” Though “Gut Bucket” ain’t exactly unique, lyrically and musically, it’s the equivalent of beating a dead corpse with a baseball bat. Combining hateful lyrics with bullying barks and Zetro Souza-like shrieks, this hard-hitting ditty is one of the meanest in the band’s catalog. Then there’s the closer—the most mindfucking of them all. But only because of how unorthodox it is. Once it gets rolling, clean, Southern croonings take hold in the way only Pepper-led Corrosion of Conformity can do it. Compared to the other songs on the album, “Gather by the Grave” stands out like a sore thumb. But it’s fun and, after the initial shock resides, it turns out to be one of the stronger tracks on the disc.
In the end, Cults, Crypts and Corpses didn’t quite grab me as Guts, Graves and Blasphemy did. Its wild variations in songwriting felt disjointed with the first couple spins, but the album comes together with repeat listens. The band has definitely pushed against the walls built by its debut while retaining the grave-robbing imagery of Guts, Grave and Blasphemy. Even if, upon first listen, it felt like they did it at a cost of flow and continuity. Something that would be made better if filler songs, like “Sometimes Dead Is Better” and “Up in the Bell Tower,” got the chop. But, as a whole, this record is fun as hell and followers of black/thrash acts from the Hells Headbangers black/thrash lineup oughta get a kick out of this.
- I thought you meant the band The Mentors offended your delicate sensibilities back in the 80s. They were quite offensive. – Steel ↩
- It turns out this shamefully-addictive show goes by a different name outside the States, but I don’t care. ↩
- I also very much dislike the lack of an Oxford comma here… ↩