Is it still accurate to refer to Thrash written in recent years as being something of a trend? The genre has undergone a huge revival since the mid-2000s and has seen some truly quality releases in this time. With many of its initial frontrunners splitting up or dropping the ball in the past years there is a gap for newer Thrash bands to make a mark. Enter MORTILLERY. These angry Canadian Thrashers have made an impact with their first two albums and their own unique take on the style invoking feelings of S.O.D. and HOLY MOSES. So how does album number three, Shapeshifter, hold up?
Radiation Sickness opens the proceedings with marching military boots leading into an awaiting riff and drum combo. After this short intro the real Thrash crashes in with snarling tone of frontwoman Cara McCutchen making a large impression immediately. The track races through its five minute length with the mix of aggression and melody fans have come to expect from the band. Following on from this is Age of Stone, a mid-paced track with breaks for some impressive guitar fills. A good showcase of the casual skill on offer here. Bullet is another one of the faster paced tracks on offer here with an emphasis on the vocals. Not as good as the previous two tracks but still enjoyable.
The fourth track, Mantis, begins with a sustained shriek before elements of melody again make their way into the vocal delivery. The riffs on this track especially have an energy that suggests they were written with moshing in mind. The same cannot be said of Black Friday a more mid paced song which again makes use of more of the skilled guitar playing of Alex Scott, returning for his second album with the band. The solo especially is impressive. Next up is Wendigo, lyrically based around the cannibalistic monster of the same name. Arguably the most representative track off the album for the band as a whole it features melodic and aggressive segments. Well worth a listen.
At the Gates rips along at a fair pace aside from a blistering solo in the middle of the song. Unfortunately the song reveals the only real problem with this album, which is that there is a lot of similarity between the tracks on offer. While none of the material is bad, it does make it difficult for certain tracks to stand out. Penultimate track Torture also suffers from this syndrome, aside from the last minute of the song which descends into one of the best solo’s off of the entire album. The Final and title track Shapeshifter mixes it up a bit by taking more inspiration from traditional metal, with the shrieks matched by harmonies and catchy choruses.
MORTILLERY have written a solid album in Shapeshifter. A Thrash band that takes inspiration from some of the lesser known artists instead of aping the greats is a breath of fresh air these days and they certainly have enough to stand out from the pack. Unfortunately a large number of the tracks blur into each other and lack anything distinct to tell them apart. That said this band is certainly going to be around for a while yet if they continue to pump out albums at the rate and quality they’ve been doing.
Shapeshifter is set for release on May 27th via Napalm records.
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