Thrash Metal in the year 2000s seems to divide people’s views a lot. Older veterans of the scene may be overly critical and deem the current renaissance of plagiarism, reviving a horse that not only has bolted and died – but practically turned to dust. Others may see the revival as a new dawn, holding new musical promise. Many of the originators and big players have lost their spark, sounding world weary, tired, and lacking the vigour they once had. After all, how many songs and albums can one write about the cold war when it ended two and a half decades ago?
However, metal in general is taken far too seriously by some – and the current thrash renaissance aims to inject to some good old time fun into proceedings.
So, here we have Mortillery. A quintet hailing from Canada with Miranda Wolfe (Bass), Alex Guiterrez (Guitars), Cara McCutchen (Vocals), Kevin Gaudet (Drums), and Kent Quinian (Lead Guitar) that formed in 2008. They draw from a rich variety of influences that include Death Angel, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and W.A.S.P. which shows clearly in their third full length album ‘Shapeshifter‘.
The album opens with “Radiation Sickness”, grabbing the listener by the shirt collar and urging them to dive into the pit. What is immediately striking is the superb vocals of Cara, who has a fantastic vocal range that would give the originators of the scene a run for their money; diving into vintage Russ Anderson territory that really hold onto the high notes with an air of supreme urgency and power that is hugely infectious. There are times when listening to the album that you feel the vocals could be exerting excess effort to the point where it feels it could unravel, as picked up on in “Bullet” – which is a minor complaint. But the album reveals very strong tracks peppered throughout as heard with “Mantis”, a track bursting with a vibrant powerful energy, stomping drums and shredding guitar work duelling with some shimmering lead solos.
“Black Friday” encompasses the spirit of thrash, which showcases superb guitar work courtesy of Alex, that is a more controlled number dialling down the speed a fraction; as if to prove a point that playing at a million miles an hour does not necessarily make for thrash precision. “Wendigo” follows the same path, adding a feeling of control while “At The Gates” is a treasure trove which has it all – guitar duals, a sense of infectious urgency, a perfect showcase of each musician’s ability; topped by beautifully soaring vocals making the hairs on your neck rise on end.
In conclusion, Mortillery have their strongest album to date building on their success from previous works; continuously honing and refining. This is an album that’s not exactly a blueprint on how it should be done, and more of an informal friendly reminder on where other bands riding the current wave of thrash could go wrong. To be extremely critical, the album could’ve had a couple of tracks shaved off which may make attention spans wander – but nevertheless is a melting pot of sonic riches worthy of note. An enjoyable blast that will file against the classics perfectly without cause for embarrassment.
‘Shapeshifter‘ will be released on May 27th via Napalm Records.
‘Shapeshifter‘ track listing:
- Radiation Sickness
- Age of Stone
- Black Friday
- At The Gates
- - 8/108/10