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Good Lord, Bobby! - 97%

severzhavnost, May 19th, 2013

Aussies may hate me for saying this, but your geographic isolation is a blessing at times. Sure it means you're unlikely to get a tour from anyone but the most washed-up of rich superstars. But on the plus side, it also means you're somewhat insulated from trends. So when Mortal Sin plopped out their first record in 1986 and referred to themselves as "influenced by Metallica"; that still meant early, edgy, choppy thrash metal. Not the movement toward windbaggy quasi-thrash led by Metallica's 3rd and 4th albums! What these Australians unleash here is fierce and grimy, like the genre was when it was still solidly underground. Get ready for Mayhemic Destruction.

You get six short, fast, pummelling songs all containing real catchy riffs. Plus one dirgey ominous intro and the 7-minute epic, "Lebanon". Hold on, you're thinking! Earlier I introduced this album as being free of windbaggy latter day pseudo-thrash. And it is. "Lebanon" is a fast-paced long song and thus it feels nowhere near as drawn-out as similar pieces-de-resistance by Metallica, Metal Church, Onslaught, etc. The whole album maintains a gloriously chaotic mood. We can attribute this equally to the musical performances, the sound quality, and even the lyrics.

For the first category, Mayhemic Destruction presents a consistent blazing speedy thrash with rough nasty vocals. Think something like Canadian greats Razor and Italy's Bulldozer mixed with early Sodom. The production is cleaner than Sodom but dirtier than the other two. Drum sound is overall tighter than any of those, while keeping the cymbals' balance just wonky enough in the mix to steer safely clear of standardised polish. And it's a frantic machine gun pace almost all the way through, with only "Liar" and "Into the Fire" dropping off slightly.

The guitars are similarly relentless, yet even at breakneck speed there's ample creativity. Mortal Sin never parody the thrash metal genre with speed for speed's sake. Each song offers its own twists and turns. As mentioned, they open up with a brooding instrumental called "The Curse". Then they churn out seven fast, but more importantly catchy, thrashers. Most of these feature warp speed solos too - best of them are "Mortal Slaughter", "Into the Fire", the title track, and "Blood Death Hatred". And the 7-minute epic "Lebanon" really fits its name, with a cool Araby lead riff popping up now and then. 

What really helps hold back the wild guitars from flying off into self-indulgent shredding though, is the brilliant bassist. Andy Eftichiou's not only fighting a winning battle with the guitars for audibility, thanks to the respectful '80s production. He also keeps up with the guitars for speed! None of that plodding along at half the guitar rhythm folks. This guy goes for broke! Check out "Women in Leather" and "Mortal Slaughter" for his best moments of matching the guitarists stroke for stroke. Hell, during the latter, even though the guitar solo is ass-kicking, I'm almost more interested in what goodies the bassist is cooking up underneath it. Yup, fast bass is most responsible for maintaining the heaviness of ultra-fast thrash metal.

As for Mortal Sin's self-professed early Metallica influence, that's most apparent in the vocals. Well, the whole song "Into the Fire" could have fit in on Kill 'em All. Most of the time, Mat Maurer channels all that's good about the high-pitched snarl of young Hetfield. Best of all, Maurer has a wider range than Hetfield, and jumps all over it to further help prop out the album's frenetic atmosphere. He can pull off mighty screams that rival Razor's Sheepdog McLaren for piercing intensity. Then he throws the audience a big nasty curveball on the last song, "Mayhemic Destruction". Here he delves into a nearly proto-death metal growl, more in line with Tom Angelripper or Bulldozer's A.C. Wild than any big name American thrasher. And he does it quite well, though his chorus rasps could stand some improvement. Lyrically, there's nothing groundbreaking here, but that's not the intention. Rambling, poetic almost-thrash fans look elsewhere! Mayhem Destruction is about, well, mayhem and destruction; and the straightforward militant aggression of the lyrics sharply underscores the music's chainsaw subtlety. 

Mortal Sin mean for you to listen to this album with your lips pulled back over your teeth in a feral bloodlusty grin. And dang it, it never disappoints! If you can keep still during Mayhemic Destruction, with no surge of primal energy whatsoever, you might be dead. Ask your doctor.