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Mandatory thrash, the demon wings are for show. - 84%

hells_unicorn, November 12th, 2013

Whenever the topic of thrash metal and the year 1986 comes up, a healthy majority of non-thrash enthusiasts or those who've only casually engaged in the art form have formed a consensus that Metallica's "Master Of Puppets" defined the era. But anyone who has delved deeper will find a much different picture where a healthy amount of bands from all over America, Europe, and beyond were taking the style in far more interesting directions than the watered down, quasi-thrash that said album embodied. Australia wasn't the most prolific purveyor of this pugnacious mode of assaulting the ears, but they did field a sold, albeit conservative outfit in Mortal Sin that made a decent run at joining the 1986 crowd with their brief yet enticing debut "Mayhemic Destruction".

To cut straight to the chase, this band touts some pretty obvious Metallica influences, but they managed to avoid a lot of the lighter and tamer trappings of said pioneer's middle era and came out with something that reminds heavily of "Kill Em' All", Laaz Rockit and Testament styled brilliance (think "The Legacy" in the latter case). The riff set is a little bit primitive in comparison to the wild progression brought to the table by bands like Watchtower and the speed factor tends a bit more towards the mid-tempo with occasional bursts of speed that tends to befit the later British sound of Onslaught, Xentrix and a few others, thus avoiding the constant thrill rides with riffs out the ears as heard out of Dark Angel, or the hyper-paced embryonic death metal character of Slayer and the bands coming out of Germany at this point. One might be tempted to call this textbook thrash metal given its middle status between the mainline and extreme versions of the style, though at the time the style wasn't so clearly defined as it has since become.

Perhaps the most enthralling aspect of this album for those seeking an old school experience is how closely these album conforms to the early NWOBHM influences that are still widely on display here (in contrast to where most of the thrash world was headed by this point). Particularly in the case of "Liar", which starts off with a drearily quiet intro reminiscent of something out of later 80s Testament that quickly morphs into a bouncy, galloping, riff-happy bruiser that conjures up similarities to Metal Church, complete with the occasional banshee wails. Granted, much of the time the vocals listen like a slightly lighter version of standard James Hetfield gruff, and the music tends to follow in suit. Although not quite as flashy as what Cliff Burton dished out on "Kill Em' All", the bass is about as prominent in the mix here and tends to push the heaviness of the guitars back a bit rather than meld with them, particularly on speedier numbers like "Blood, Death, Hatred" and "Mortal Slaughter" where some clear nods to "Phantom Lord" and "Four Horsemen" are heard.

It might be a bit unfair to simply pigeon-hole this album as being Metallica-lite, but at times it gets extremely difficult to separate the songwriting and instrumental execution from what originally broke the mold for said members of the BIg 4 back in 1983. One thing that plays to this band's credit is that Mat Maurer is a bit more proficient at the high notes and doesn't come off as a prepubescent version of Lemmy Kilmeister when trying to emulate Rob Halford. It's a foregone conclusion that anyone who gave Metallica grief for "Fade To Black" back when things were just getting started might have taken to this album as it presents a potential road not taken by said band that is more in line with the rugged conservative implied in said criticisms. In one sense, progress and evolution in style is a good thing, but given the latest trends in Metallica's music, in and of itself it's a bit overrated. All in all, "Mayhemic Destruction" isn't the fastest and most aggressive thing to come out of 1986, but it's definitely worth it's weight in demon wings.