Release Title: Shapeshifter
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Radiation Sickness
2. Age of Stone
5. Black Friday
7. At the Gates
Hailing from Alberta, Canada, Mortillery has not only remained remarkably consistent regarding their line-up but also in terms of releases gaining in quality each time out. Following two quality releases in their discography already, this third effort from the group, released May 27, 2016 from Napalm Records.
As has been the bands’ crux from the beginning, there’s an extended and pronounced old-school feel running throughout the album as the main focus on offering thrashy, speed-drenched heavy metal rhythms tends to become the primary focus. Propulsive, tightly-wound riffing, scorching soloing and thumping drumming take center-stage which effectively recalls the old-school thrash scene to a fine extent here coupling those hard-hitting traditional patterns with the fiery excess, aggression and flavor of thrash. As well, the inclusion of the more traditional metal rhythms manages to keep this one engaging when it dips down into a heavy, plodding mid-tempo chug fully showing off a rather fine and heavy style quite well outside of the thrash patterns. Given a great, energetic production-job that highlights those spindly old-school melodies quite well and the album has a lot to like. Though this frantic thrashing certainly works well for the album, there’s the first of several minor flaws cropping up because of that. With the main focus here as fervently mixed with the two styles, it struggles to keep the energy going completely throughout the mid-tempo work and that causes this to stumble somewhat. The need for simplistic riff-work and choppy arrangements are bad enough, but to augment it all with high-pitched banshee wailing vocals completely kills the mood dead as it’s just so completely against the remaining influences present that desperately trying to enhance the energy when it’s not there does give this some decidedly odd moments. Likewise, that brings up the vocals in general which seem really ill-suited for this type of work as they’re draining in pitch, decidedly one-note in general performance and despite the enthusiasm in their reading seem too light to match the hard-hitting work here. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot that holds this back.
Though there’s a lot of rather fun and engaging work to be had here with this one’s old-school charm, there’s a few minor stumbling blocks out there that does hold this back enough that it’s really mostly worthwhile to more devout revival-era thrash fanatics or those who’ve been able to live with their work in the past.
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