Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Good on its own, just a bit late to the party... - 76%

Hellish_Torture, June 25th, 2015

In the second half of the 80s, after thrash metal exploded worldwide thanks to bands like Metallica and Slayer, many new underground acts from every part of the globe started being recognized and supported: the Australian act Mortal Sin debuted in 1987 with “Mayhemic Destruction” - an album that, despite being consequential to the genre’s diffusion in the mainstream, was definitely more akin to the so-called “first wave” of thrash metal, rather than the “Bay Area sound” popularized in that period by “Master of Puppets” and other derived acts (a style the band would later touch with their sophomore effort “Face of Despair”).

It would be difficult for a thrash album which came out only in 1987 (pretty much during the genre’s golden era) to be considered as a “revivalist” record: yet, “Mayhemic Destruction” can already be considered somehow as a “retro” album for the time when it was released. Actually, this album could have easily been recorded in 1983: still making paragons with Metallica, it sounds way more like “Kill ‘em All” than anything else, and perhaps even more stripped down and derivative from classic heavy metal. The result is a perfect incarnation of the most “primitive” soul of speed/thrash, with the only fault of being definitely too “anachronistic” and obsolete for 1987 - yet still able to convey a solid amount of good ideas.

On “Mayhemic Destruction”, Mortal Sin adopts an unripe satanic imagery (probably inspired by Mercyful Fate) and takes pretty much the same influences that led Metallica to create their legendary debut, yet focusing way more on the NWOBHM side, rather than on the speed metal/hardcore punk one (which, however, is still findable in some doses). Therefore, most songs on this album are crafted in a rather mid-paced fashion: this is particularly audible on tracks like “The Curse”, “Women in Leather”, “Liar” and “Into the Fire”, which offer some crude, catchy, “galloping” riffs which sound like a cross between classic heavy metal and early thrash, where the lack of “excessive” speed is compensated by a frequent use of double bass; while not particularly “up-to-date”, these songs still possess a sufficient amount of freshness for the standards of 1987, and can be easily enjoyed for their really considerable catchiness and impact, despite their supposed “stylistic primitivity”. Even the faster up-tempos are still quite moderate, rarely reaching the whiplashing speeds which were already typical for many thrash bands of that epoch - but it’s during these parts that you usually find some of the album’s best riffage: I could mention the rather complex and interesting speed metal phrasings of “Women in Leather”, the powerful, catchy, punkish riffs of “Blood, Death, Hatred”, or the vigorous melodic riffs of “Mortal Slaughter”. However, an exception in this regard is represented by the title-track, which deliberately goes full speed with a raw, dirty, wicked speed/thrash riff that will probably damage many necks.

The NWOBHM influences (principally Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Satan and similar stuff, with the addition of Mercyful Fate as an “external” contributor) are very functional to the album’s concept, giving justice to the band’s “occult” imagery with equally “occult” atmospheres: the spine-chilling intro “The Curse” begins with a slow opening, dominated by a very puissant drum/bass performance, some hellish echoes, awesome Maiden-esque harmonizations and some cool “hidden” melodies here and there; there’s a definitely remarkable solo work throughout the whole record, enriching appropriately the riffs on tracks such as “Liar”, “Mortal Slaughter”, “Blood, Death, Hatred”, and “Women in Leather” (which shines especially for its masterful melodic breaks). However, the most “epic” piece we can find on here is undoubtedly “Lebanon”: a magnificent mixture of sinister and mysterious melodies, mid-paced “Kill ‘em All”-styled thrash riffs, masterful crescendos made of more “acute” riffs which develop more and more pathos, weird harmonized phrasings and rough, filthy, evil, threatening speed/thrash riffs (still placed upon “moderately fast” up-tempos, in the typical vein of this album). Even the title-track benefits from the memorability of certain atypical melodic riffs which definitely enrich and empower the album’s whole atmosphere, making it richer and more credible despite its “obsolescence”. It’s evident that these guys loved heavy metal with all themselves, and their inspiration was superior to dominant trends.

The vocals, honestly, are a bit of a letdown. Mat Maurer has never been a really good vocalist, and while this is probably his most “colorful” performance ever, it’s still quite inconsistent and derivative. His vocals sound like a sort of mix between the U.S. thrash tendencies of the mid-80s and the cliched “melodic” vocals which have always been typical of classic heavy metal, everything interpreted with a rather nasal and “goofy” tone which lacks conviction, strength and credibility; the Metallica rip-offs are way too evident on certain parts of “Lebanon”, and the vocal performance during the clean guitar intro of “Liar” is even a bit ridiculous. However, the damn catchy chorus of “Into the Fire” (supported by equally catchy riffs) will surely entertain you, in all its “ingenuity” and simplicity. This is still much better than the explicit Bay Area rip-offs that Mat performs on later albums - let alone the awful, unlistenable self-parody that Steve Sly provides on the cringeworthy “Every Dog Has it’s Day”.

Summing everything, I think this is one of those albums that should have been released some years earlier in order to reach true brilliance; luckily, in 1987, the band’s creativity was still in full swing, thus they managed to craft out a really fine collection of tunes, achieving a really strong worldwide following despite the supposedly “unripe/obsolete” style they played. Still nowadays, “Mayhemic Destruction” remains Mortal Sin’s finest hour, being their most spontaneous, enthusiast, powerful, inspired record to date - and along with the sophomore album “Face of Despair”, represents the only useful contribution ever provided to the underground by this once respectable band.