Mortification - Erasing the Goblin
Another year, another Mortification album. Despite what seems like at least one new member on every album, Steve Rowe and Co. somehow manage to continue churning out the metal at a lightening fast pace. This time around the lineup consists of Rowe on bass and vocals, Mick Jelinic on guitars for the third straight album, and new drummer Damien Percy. And even though Mortification is Rowe's baby, the other guys in the group do their fair share of contributing with lyric and music writing this time around, including Jelinic writing the music for about four songs and Percy writing the lyrics and music completely for one song.
As for what this album sounds like, it will probably continue to surprise you. Continue you ask? Well, about six or seven years back Steve Rowe commented that he was through with death metal vocals. After a few appearances of death vocals on their last couple discs, Erasing the Goblin takes the death metal influences and runs with it. A band that had once shifted from death/grind to power/thrash, has now started to come back around and on Erasing the Goblin plays a death/thrash mix with a few power metal influences still thrown in for good measure. While this is not the return to Scrolls of the Megilloth that so many old Mortification fans want, this is the closest they've been in a long time. Imagine a cross between Primitive Rhythm Machine, Blood World, Relentless, and Brain Cleaner and that's what Erasing the Goblin sounds closest to.
Musically, the band is really hitting on all cylinders here. While this is not overly complex stuff, the sound is heavy, energetic, and raw throughout. The band changes things up with blazing thrash-styled riffs, brutal and doomy death metal styled guitars, plenty of guitar solos, Rowe's trademark rumbling bass that is always high in the mix, and some solid drumming with lots of double bass and even some blasting (check out the songs "Way Truth Life" and "The Dead Shall Be Judged"). As for the vocals, Steve Rowe sounds like he's slowly regaining his past form. While his battles with cancer took a lot out of him, and while we'll probably never hear the power he displayed on those early albums, he sounds more confident here and it's a good thing for the band. His growls still sound a little hollow, but he does manage to unleash a few deadly guttural growls here and there that are sure to please fans of the band's more extreme side. And of course, he also utilizes some of the thrashy grunt/clean vocals he's used on past albums as well, but to a much lesser extent.
The artwork on this album still doesn't do much for me with the mixture of the death metal gore and the power metal hero. I can say that at least it's an improvement over the Relentless and Brain Cleaner artwork. Speaking of improvements, the lyrics are some of the better ones that the band has put out in recent years. While most of them are still pretty basic and nothing overly creative, the cheese factor that plague recent albums seems to be much less apparent here. This makes the bold message of Christ that the band conveys, that much more credible in my opinion.
As I've stated after reviewing Relentless and Brain Cleaner, Mortification is definitely heading in the right direction again. While I still think their best days are behind them, they are pushing forward and showing that they aren't about to roll over and die. Here's hoping the band keeps it heavy and maybe even pushes the envelope a little further the next time around. (A little side note...this is the Rowe Productions version which has the studio version of "Dead Man Walking", which was previously only available as a live track. In July of 2006 this album will be released again by MCM Music in Germany with the track "Servants of the Supreme Message" in place of "Dead Man Walking", and also with a different cover and layout).
Review By: Matt Morrow
Label: Rowe Productions
Total Songs: 10
Total Time: 42:19
Tracklisting: 1. Razorback, 2. Erasing the Goblin, 3. The Dead Shall Be Judged, 4. Escape the Blasphemous Tabernacle, 5. Your Time, 6. Forged in Stone, 7. Way Truth Life, 8. Humanitarian, 9. Short Circuit, 10. Dead Man Walking.
Best Songs: Tracks 1, 3, 5, & 7.
Band Lineup: Steve Rowe - Bass/Vocals, Mick Jelinic - Guitars, Damien Percy - Drums.
Band Website: http://www.roweproductions.com