Mortification - Relentless


Just when you thought Morification was on their last leg they go and release their best album since "Envision Evangeline".  Many are calling it their finest release yet.  I won't go that far, as I'm a huge fan of their old death metal releases, but this is definitely an improved Mortification.
Musically, the band takes a somewhat heavier direction than their three previous albums.  One of the biggest surprises is the addition of two new guitarists, Jeff Lewis and Mick Jelinic.  These two do a superb job, as this disc is chock full of killer guitar work.  There are great leads and solos throughout and heavy riffing to get the heads-a-bangin'.    Steve's vocals are still a little bit of a down point for me as I'm not a huge fan of his current vocal style.  At times he sounds almost bored, but then again, at times he sounds improved.  On the song "Apocalyptic Terror" he reverts back to the full-on death vocals.  This song is definitely the highlight for me with the death vocals, brutally fast sound, and even some blasting.  I often find myself hitting the repeat button multiple times on this song.  I wish there was a way that we could convince Steve to go with this style on the next album, but I doubt that will happen.  It does prove that they do still have it in them to do some extreme stuff.  It actually came as a surprise to me since Steve has said before that "Hammer of God"  would be the last album with death vocals.  The other standout cut is the opener "Web of Fire".  I also dig the song "Bring Release" which sounds more like "Bloodworld"-era Mortification.  One problem I have with a couple of the songs though is that the choruses are very repetitive, but this is really only a problem on a few tracks.  Some of the songs are also somewhat simplistic musically, but that has also been the case on some past Mort releases, so no big surprise there.
Lyrically, the band is as bold as you would expect, with fist-pumping, evangelistic metal lyrics.  Unfortunately, some of these lyrics border on the cheesy side.  Not that they are not true, but they are just very simplistic/cliche type lyrics which Steve has been known to write at times.   The production and packaging on the album is very professionally done.  I have mixed feelings about the cover artwork though.  It's well done, but not something that I would see the secular crowd taking too seriously.  Speaking of the secular crowd, I doubt this album will make too big of an impact with new listeners.  Not that it's not a good album, but many non-Christians I know have a bad taste in their mouth from Mort straying from their death metal past, so most of them won't even give a new Mort album the time of day.  For established Mort fans that love the current direction of the band, this album is sure to please.  It may even draw back in a few fans that long for the old days since they revert back on a few songs.
Despite some up and down years and a lot of criticism for style changes, this band still continues to crank out the metal.  (At least they haven't went metalcore!)  This album has really grown on me and for the first time in about six or seven years I'm actually looking forward to the next Mortification album.  (Review by Matt)