Every time I’ve heard current bands in the Thrash/Death Metal category it’s always Kreator/Slayer/Morbid Angel/Death (delete as appropriate) by numbers. Like there were only a limited number of Thrash bands towards the extreme side of the genre and it’s best not to deviate too far!
I’d heard bits of Dutch Band Mortal Form’s previous CD and what I heard was interesting enough so I wanted to give this new release – their third full length to date – a decent spin and see if MF are any different to the norm. Vocally – no, it’s all a bit one-dimensional, somewhere between the aforementioned Morbid Angel and Kreator – though the guy’s rhythmical grasp of the whole Thrash feel is welcoming and his voice fits the songs fine, it’s just that personally I like the vocals to be a bit more adventurous. The music does all it can to fill in for that though, so that’s what I’m going to concentrate on.
Mortal Form’s strength is that they have heard more than four thrash bands and to be honest the Death Metal side of the band veers more towards Melodic Death Metal. From the outset there is plenty of varied thrash on offer, and not just an 80’s tribute either – the production is as current as it should be. OK, ‘Storm Before Calm’ does smack of Kreator, but with a couple of Testament style lead breaks, which fits nicely with the equally Testament-esque opening riff to following track ‘Forsaken Graves’, before heading off into more Death Metal territory. It quickly becomes apparent that there always seems to be something to set each song apart from the usual. Some Arch Enemy in ‘Dungeon’ (especially in the lead-guitar driven section towards the end), there’s a Black Metal edge to the start of ‘Apocalyptic Aftermath’, and a bit of Coroner in there too. There’s plenty of Nuclear Assault in ‘Radiation Breath’ and ‘As Nature Turns Evil’ switches from Thrash to Metal in a similar way to Holy Terror. The good thing about this album is that I’m probably missing loads more influences too that others will pick up on immediately. How the hell could I not hear Overkill, early Voivod or Celtic Frost? Well I did, but I thought it was all getting a bit too analytical there…this IS Thrash after all!
Mortal Form come across as a band heavily educated on all things Thrash but are not too scared of stepping out from the four band blueprint. OK, there is nothing particularly original on offer here, but there’s plenty to interest and I’m glad I checked them out. I look forward to hearing more in the future.
(6/10 – Andy Barker)