It’s taken them almost 30 years, but Mortal Sin has finally made the album of their career.
That might sound like blasphemy to those who still hold a special place in their hearts for this band’s first two albums, but while both of those are good on their own merits – especially considering where Aussie metal was at the time – Psychology of Death leaves them in the dust. Mortal Sin has taken every gram of experience, every ounce of maturity and every lesson they have learned and poured it all into this album, and they have created a monster.
The title track sets the tone immediately, starting with a omnious riff, into a mid-tempo chug, back to the first riff before the classic breakneck speaker-leaping thrash leaps right out. This is a huge track, peaking with some epic soloing and a crushing breakdown right out of the Florida death metal playbook. It’s visceral, urgent and violent, and it’s precisely what modern thrash should be. A ton of bands of this vintage make the mistake of trying to sound like they’re still back at the end of the 1980s. Not Mortal Sin. This is inarguably old school thrash, but it sounds like today.
The most recognisable aspect of early Mortal Sin is the catchy choruses, something these guys always had a solid knack for. “Deny” in particular should have people singing along on the very first listen and the anthemic “Down in the Pit” will get fists pumping whenever it’s aired live. This is probably the weakest track, hearkening closest of all to their earlier work and seems a little out of place in between the majestic “Kingdom of Pain”, full of Luke Cook’s rolling drums and twin guitar harmonies, and the three and a half minute, flat-to-the-floor hardcore headkick of “Hatred”. Still, it doesn’t really let the side down either. I have no idea how many songs the Mortals wrote for this album but these nine tracks add up to some of the best thrash to be released this year. Cook’s drums are huge, the solos, as mentioned, border on the epic on just about every cut and the riffs are just copybook thrash metal goodness. Yet by far the most notable change is in Mat Maurer’s vocal delivery. Gone is the slightly nasal mid-range tone and in its place is a thoroughly convincing lower-register semi-growl that totally suits the modern feel of the music.
Like a tricked-out classic car, this is still Mortal Sin. Underneath the modern production the band’s sense of dynamics and catchy song writing skills remain in place, but Psychology of Death beefs them up and brings them into the current era. This is a fantastic thrash metal album that should find a home in any collection.
1. Psychology of Death
2. Blood of My Enemies
4. Burned Into Your Soul
6. Doomed to Annihilation
7. Kingdom of Pain
8. Down in the Pit