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No Country for Foolish Metal “Traitors” - 91%

bayern, May 18th, 2017

When I came across this album some time in the mid-90’s, I had no idea that Mordred were one of the pioneers on the funk metal arena, second only to Faith No More perhaps. Well, not so much on the album reviewed here which remains one of the epitomes of the Bay-Area thrash sound, a highly energetic slab of sharp cutting, semi-technical riffs played at various tempos this great musical compendium topped by some of the finest clean vocals to ever grace a thrash metal opus this side of Joey Belladonna and Eric A.K.

Cause the guys were bending it no worse than Metallica and Megadeth on this shredding debut which also comes with a crystal clear sound quality. “State of Mind” is the best possible opener with the virtuoso pyrotechnics, the urgent headbanging riffs, the great chorus, the dazzling leads, and the myriad of tempo shifts served in the second half to ensure the more progressive flair of this no-brainer. “Spectacle of Fear” is a shorter, more immediate lasher, but the guys do an admirable job again not without the help of the more prominent bass, the staple cutting rhythm-section and the more technical quirks. “Every Day’s a Holiday” is the funky surprise, the first indication that something less ordinary is going to materialize in the near future, a spastic jumper without any thrashy merits that may be considered an annoyance. “Spellbound” thrashes hard with passion the guys settling for hard-hitting mid-paced shred with a few speedier digressions, with the next in line cool sing-along chorus; and “Sever & Splice” follows the same intense model only that this is as catchy as classic thrash can possibly get, from the razor-blade rhythm-section to the emotional vocal performance, to the intricate fretwork, to another infectious chorus: it beats me why this album didn’t become the multi-million seller it richly deserved to be based on its vast appeal...

“The Artist” is another thrashterpiece with a more aggressive flair, nice bass support, dazzling melodic leads and hectic jumpy technical riffage; and “Shatter” returns to the staple intense mid-tempo approach the guys proving themselves as the undisputable masters of the chorus with another one added to the fore. Regardless of the high quality of the material witnessed so far the highlight hasn’t come yet; it’s “Reckless Abandon”, a progressive thrash roller-coaster which melodic intro soon turns to blistering thrashy “skirmishes” and blazing virtuoso lead sections. More eccentric surprises like “Super Freak”, for example, the cover of the Rick James hit, turned into a jarring funky thrasher, but working fine with its quasi-dance potential. “Numb” compensates for the playfulness of its predecessor with heavy rolling guitars, numerous headbanging opportunities, more dramatic build-ups and the cool closing galloping passage.

This album was a perfect fit into the Bay-Area cavalcade of the late-80’s standing proud beside the debuts of Death Angel, Forbidden and Heathen, and Vio-Lence. Amazingly, all these outfits had their own individual approach to the style differing from each other, easily recognizable, and yet sharing something in common to bind them to the place they were all coming from. Mordred and Death Angel were the bravest ones, and partially Flotsam & Jetsam, as they went further than anyone trying to betray… sorry, diversify the good old thrash. How successful they were in this endeavour is polemical as neither managed to reach the glory that the Big Four were bathing in. Our friends here at least tried, and their sophomore was a decent laid-back thrashing entertainment firmly rooted in the old canons despite its frivolous funky nature.

Although commercial success eluded them, the guys didn’t give up, but voted to give at least one more try if nothing else, at least for the sake of all that groovy/aggro jazz. “The Next Room” was the next instalment, and it did embrace the modern vogues giving the post-thrash movement a good run for its money with a nice progressive flair elaborating the situation. No funk, no jazz, no gimmicks of the kind except for a few isolated leaps. Alas, their conformism never turned into profit, and the band split up. The good news is that they have reformed recently, encouraged by the resurgent classic metal scene of the new millennium, and the re-release of all their early demos from the mid-80’s in 2014 could be a sign that more potent funky thrashisms may reach the fans’ ears not far from now… or, in the better case scenario, more shredding Bay-Area thrash greatness.