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This is it folks, my personal "album of the year" you could say, probably the best thing I've discovered within the last several months. Might be a little early to throw such a claim out there but if I find anything that can really top this or even rank up next to it, I'll be damned. Towards the end of 2007 and around the beginning of this year I found myself becoming increasingly interested in thrash, though I've always been a little picky about my thrash. Basically, I still don't dwell into the brutal or death genres too much yet I still wanted to hear something intense, incredibly heavy, evil, and insanely freaking fast. Rigor Mortis' self-titled debut here was exactly what I was searching for.
Though I certainly don't want to mislead any of the brutal/death fans away from this by saying that, you'll really be missing out on some legendary stuff here if you put it aside. It's still pretty damn dark, unadulterated heavy metal with balls of steel. This vile atmosphere is easily obtained thanks to vocalist Bruce Corbitt. This guy is pretty much the Unicron of metal vocalists. Once you hear his commanding, deep, barbaric voice, you'll tremble in fear. The best part is as the other reviewers have pointed out, unlike a lot of vocalists of this style you can actually understand the lyrics Corbitt's singing downright easily and that makes this even more enjoyable. It's definitely a shame there's not a lot of other vocalists out there quite like this.
So you wanna play games do ya?
Well just who do you think you're fucking with?!
You see I've learned everything the hard way.
Yes I've been through hell and back!
Next thing I guess I'll discuss is the production. Again I hate to repeat the previous reviewers but they really nailed what's going on here. Those expecting a thunderous production like Dark Angel's stuff, Demolition Hammer, Kreator, or whatever, might be a little disappointed here. It's still certainly heavier than a lot of things out there and even tons of thrash releases at the time, but the mix is pretty much solely focused on the guitar (along with the vocals standing out clearly too). This is somewhat of a shame because bassist Casey Orr and drummer Harden Harrison are way above average themselves. The drums are pretty impressive and dynamic, though often lost in the distance. The bass gets overshadowed for the most part but it does peak around the corner here and there and damn, it's really impressive that Orr manages to keep up with the guitars and even some solo's from time to time. Regardless, guitarist Mike Scaccia is constantly standing at the top of The Great Pyramid of Cholula through every single second of this album. If his sheer ability doesn't make up for the odd production, then you're just weird. (Honestly though as a big speed metal fan the production really doesn't bother me that much at all. So if you enjoy the guitar driven stuff like Agent Steel's first two albums or whatnot, then this might be a big plus for some).
So yeah, if it again wasn't made clear already by the other reviews I'll just strengthen the point: Mike Scaccia is insane and literally incomparable. It's really mind blowing how all the rhythm's, the riffs, and the riddled leads that pop up constantly are all incredibly dynamic. If that makes sense. Usually some guitarists out there just say "Hey look I can play really fast!" and with Scaccia here it's "Hey bud, my rhythm's are constantly evolving, my melodies shred planets into dust, I'll even throw in some melodic neo-classical influenced solo's here and there, and my originality on each track is unprecedented ... all at the same time!" - On top of all this another thing I'll point out is that even with the solo's, you can practically hear every single damn string he hits and it's almost scary to comprehend. The solo's are incredibly smooth and majestic while he's rapidly firing away hitting notes showing no signs of slowing down. Indeed, Scaccia must have the arms of some God or something from out of this world.
The album itself is pretty much perfect through and through, there's not a single bad track in sight at all. Though I honestly think the instrumental intro Welcome To Your Funeral (very appropriate title!) and even Demons are kind of like a tease compared to the rest of the songs. I mean, I'm already in awe when these tracks are playing but when Bodily Dismemberment starts up ... my head just explodes. Next song that always comes to mind is Wizard Of Gore, I don't think metal gets much more headbang-able than this. This is also where I think Corbitt truly dominates with the vocals (if he wasn't already awesome enough), especially after the middle segment of the song (after about 3:00) just listen to Corbitt, that energy pierces Mount Olympus. I also have to say the guitar distortions on this track are insanely cool. Directly after this there's Shroud Of Gloom which I believe fully emphasis my point on being able to hear Scaccia hitting every single string with the solo. Die In Pain has bassist Orr on vocals, he does a commendable job but it is kind of a reminder of how impressive Corbitt, whom takes up the spot again with the rest of the songs. Vampire gets an honorable mention as well because it probably has my favorite solo off the entire album and no, not the crazy shredding the beginning! You'll hit it about midway in, easily one of the more dynamic and melodic solo's on here. I know I'm going a little over the top here but I've also gotta say Corbitt gives off a really cool and arrogant performance on Slow Death, it fits perfectly. It took me awhile to get the re-issue with the bonus tracks but I can easily agree with the former reviews, simply put they're just as good as the album itself.
Right off the bat I was captivated. This album completely delivered what I was searching for, constantly charging at light speed it's probably one of the fastest guitar driven albums I've ever heard while managing to have no issues with repetition or whatnot. I've been hooked since I discovered it and can easily see it becoming a top favorite of mine in due time. If you're looking for something insanely fast, pretty damn original, with a fairly vile image, seek this out immediately! And even if you're like me and don't usually touch the brutal thrash / death metal genres, put the fear aside and give it a shot. Be prepared. Wonder what would happen if you put Mike Scaccia and Bernie Versailles together ...