[February 22nd 2013]
01. Battle March
02. No Way Out
03. Cease To Exist
04. Creature Possessor
05. Seen In Death
06. Feed The Fire
07. The Hunter’s Lair
10. Sunday Morning Slasher
It’s not often that a genre gets a second outing after its original heyday, but thrash metal has been making an impressive comeback since it dipped markedly in the 90s. While many of the original acts are still releasing impressive albums nowadays (Testament and Overkill to name a couple), a new wave of acts have also been making their presence felt. These bands worship the older acts while sporting a much cleaner production than 80s metal could afford; some are calling it “re-thrash”. A few of these re-thrashers, like Huntress and Mortillery, have followed in the footsteps of Détente and Znöwhite by having a woman do the larynx-shredding honors, and in Mortillery‘s case they’ve found a gem in Cara McCutchen. The band have unleashed their sophomore round of gunfire in Origin Of Extinction, an album that showcases their very close studying of the Thrash Bible.
After a Megadeth-inspired instrumental demonstrating the band’s technical abilities (“Battle March“), there is an off-kilter moment as “No Way Out” starts in ballad form before more familiar thrashing territory arrives, weaving between chorus, verse and solo. The structure is then set for Cara to demonstrate a wide singing range, with a touch of impressive harsh growls and screams thrown in for good measure. “Cease To Exist” adds a military feel to the drums, surrounded by guitar noodling from Alex Scott and Alex Gutierrez; the guitar work is decidedly solid, each riff and solo well-crafted to suit each tempo. The other tracks all loosely fall into a similar category, not straying too far from the thrash/NWOBHM path so clearly defined thirty years ago.
To Mortillery’s credit, the album displays more variety than their début Murder Death Kill offered; “Creature Possessor”’s Municipal-Waste-meets-cowbell charm crosses paths with the Slayer homage in “Feed The Fire”, and the trite expletive-riddled punk attitude of “F.O.A.D.” clashes with the more melodic “The Hunter’s Lair”, an instant favorite which features Gutierrez on guest harsh vocals. The production, skipping on thrash’s usually gritty and raw approach, is instead remarkably pristine, a sign of the modern makeover that thrash has undergone, cleaned up from the dirty times of yore. Conversely, McCutchen’s vocals seem to become heavier and more demented as the album progresses, with occasional bursts of melody and air raid sirens for contrast, proving her to be approaching the top of the newcomer female thrash vocalists with her diversity.
Ultimately, however, this is a re-thrash album, and while Origin Of Extinction is well-written, much of it feels decidedly too familiar to anyone who has listened to the above-mentioned bands. Whether the Destruction feel to “Maniac”, the NWOBHM-inspired melodies of “The Hunter’s Lair” or the war-spirited lyrics that permeate “No Way Out” and “Cease To Exist”, there is little that stands out as innovative or with substantial replay value. Listening becomes a game of “Guess The Influence” rather than enjoying the blend of bands together, which is unfortunate because the songs themselves are well-executed.
Devoted thrash lovers will lap up Mortillery’s efforts, and the vocals alone make this worth checking out, but anyone with a passing interest in the genre would do better to look to the originals. However, as a whole Origin Of Extinction feels more like a finals project in Thrash University, where the textbook has been analyzed and replicated; great quality, but bordering dangerously closely on plagiarism.