The resurgence of the traditional thrash metal scene has been a largely hit and miss affair, with the majority of bands taking a very linear approach with regards to the style, and with the genes of early Metallica and Slayer forming the basis of any and all creation. Edmonton Canada’s Mortillery never deviate too far from this integral baseline thrash set-up; but to dismiss them as yet another by-the-numbers thrash band would not be a fair reflection of their abilities, as they do have the odd trick up their sleeve that sets them aside from the pack.
The album itself kicks off in reasonably predictable albeit confident fashion, as the sound of a siren leads in to a ‘Kill Em All’ influenced riff which is delivered with a stomping intent, yet it is when the vocals come in that I am initially confused. Expecting the traditional Hetfield-esque rants and affirmations, or at least a Tom Araya style shout, instead we get a vocal that falls somewhere in between Rob Halford and Jello Biafra, with a sickening snarl and venom in the chorus that Chuck Schuldiner would have been proud of. After a verse and chorus, I was more than convinced by the combination and my head was nodding along appreciatively through the ‘Four Horsemen’ inspired bridge, (not an option for retro thrashers, but more of a rule), and by the final notes which are delivered in the form of a drawn out roar I’m sold. I think. Musically, things carry along at a solid pace with a faultless rhythm section, although the guitars of Alexes Scott and Gutierrez chug along with solid riffs but very little in the way of invention or virtuosity.
‘Evil Remains’ shows off the punk and hardcore influence that permeates their sound, backed up ably by that Jello element to the vocal, whilst ‘Fritzl’s Cellar’ has elements of Iron Maiden about the structure and riffing. So, not quite the average run of the mill retro thrash band then, as there is clearly a lot going on here, but despite this Mortillery suffer from the law of diminishing returns, and as the album goes on it holds the interest less and less. By the penultimate track ‘Without Weapons’, I was still appreciating the overall sound but felt there was nothing really left to hear and no surprises around the corner. Well there was, although not one I was expecting. The singing was always the element that set this one aside from the also-rans, and it was time to find out who was behind that sound. Not once did it occur to me that that voice belonged to a woman; but indeed it does. The very talented Cara McCutchen, whose voice transcends a number of different styles, but is at its most impressive when spitting out spite filled roars in a thoroughly impressive performance.
The trouble with Mortillery is that when you take Miss McCutchen’s voice out of the equation, what remains is perfectly listenable, but nothing particularly memorable or outstanding on the musical front. That being said, there is a lot of potential here and ‘Murder Death Kill’ is Mortillery’s first full length album. I hope we hear more of them, because as their experience and confidence grows, I’m sure that there is a lot to come from them in the future. As it stands though, whilst it challenges traditional thrash convention in a number of ways, it doesn’t engage quite enough to garner an unreserved recommendation. A fun blast nonetheless.
(7/10 – Lee Kimber)