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After a positive experience with Mekong Delta's debut, I was hungry for more of their material. Taking the name of one of H.P Lovecraft's better known tales, 'The Music Of Erich Zann' is the second album by these German thrashers, and despite a short time between the release of the two albums, there has been some significant development regarding the sound of the band. While the overall style of the band has improved however, it lacks the same naive charm that first attracted me to the debut. This has resulted in a sophomore that I more or less regard on equal grounds with the first.
From the first minute of music here onward, Mekong Delta are certainly not the band that was making straightforward, slightly offbeat thrash on their self-titled. Here, they have evolved into a much more technical and classically-leaning act. The improvements are most noticeable in the guitar riffs here. Instead of an early Voivod-esque style of slightly dissonant riffing, Mekong Delta turn their sights on neoclassical leads, harmonies, and complex instrumental passages. Also notable to the second wave of Mekong Delta is the most greater influence of classical music, particularly an instrumental segment here that contrasts guitars with eerie violins, creating a very modern piece of metal-fused classical music. The symphonic thing has been done countless times in metal, but its rare to hear it compliment the existing mood that the metal would have created on its own.
The downside of 'The Music Of Erich Zann' are the vocals. On the self-titled debut, I loved Wolfgang Borgmann's really energetic delivery. It felt really unpredictable, with him sometimes going for a melodic approach, or a thrashy rasp, or even a falsetto wail that would send chills down my spine. This time around, these things are still there, but they feel arranged in a much less effective way. Borgmann's voice also feels much weaker, especially with the falsettos, which come off as flat and borderline irritating. The rest of the music here is generally more intelligent and stronger than what Mekong Delta was doing on the debut, but this drags the band back down a bit. Largely due to the vocals as well, there aren't any songs that got into my head here, whereas on the debut, I found myself remembering some of the best moments of that album for days to come.
'The Music Of Erich Zann' is certainly an improvement overall for Mekong Delta, although I cannot call it a resounding success in every respect. In their transit to a more serious, and progressive style of thrash music, they seem to have lost some of their raw magic. However, this band's sophomore is a much more promising work, and hopefully on subsequent albums, they will take these intriguing new developments and refine them.