Review Summary: Some Kick-ass thrash metal from the outback! Thats right some good old school thrash metal from the land of Crocodile Dundee.
Mortal Sin Australia’s premier thrash metal act. Formed in 1985, by singer Matt Maurer and original drummer Wayne Campbell (later canned in support of this album). Just seven months after their first live show, Mortal Sin were already creating a buzz in the Australian music scene and in July of 1986 recorded their first demo entitled Mayhemic Destruction which was originally released under their own label know as Mega Metal Productions. In 1987 Phonogram Records (UK) singed the band, and re-released Mayhemic Destruction worldwide as the bands first full length production. And then we get to the bands sophomore effort know as Face of Despair.
Face of Despair is quite possibly Mortal Sin’s most recognized effort to date. Mainly due to an extensive tour of their homeland Australia with American thrash metal giants Metallica. Face of Despair was also produced by well know thrash producer Randy Burns (Megadeth, and Kreator). The tracks off of this record have loads of what many other thrash acts at the time had, including fast guitars, not a great singer, and some interesting songs that talk about death, and politics. Sounds like the formula for a great thrash metal record of the late eighties, and that’s exactly what this is.
To start, the guitar riffs off of this record may not be the most exciting and technical out of the thrash genre, but they definitely fit the song and keep the listener tuned in and give them a good head bang here or there. So in other words not comparable to Megadeth or Vio-Lence in terms of amazingly technical riffs but more comparable to a Metallica or Anthrax more slow and heavy. But, on the other hand the solos on this record are phenomenal they might not be very technical and out there but I just love the way they fit with the songs structure, meaning they don’t venture away from the rest of the song, and cause some listeners to be turned off. In some cases a listener may become bored if the whole song structure is based around the guitarist showing off his skills opposed to delivering a tasty solo that fit’s the song. So in general the guitars will not wow anyone, but instead keep the listener entertained and interested throughout.
The vocals on this record aren’t necessarily bad, but they are defiantly not great as in most thrash bands cases. The vocals are closer to talking rather then actual singing. While most vocalists in thrash metal acts would give you a growl or in some cases a scream or some high pitched vocals, but this has none of that. As I stated the vocals are closer to just talking through the song with an occasional growl but it doesn’t move far beyond that. When I hear the vocals the first thing that comes to mind in terms of close relation is Sacred Reich, it is almost exactly the same as the vocals in most of Sacred Reich’s material. This is merely an observation more then a complaint as a heads up.
The songs that make up this record give you a taste of what great thrash metal is all about, some melodic intros, heavy riffs that make you bang your head, good but not great solos, loud thumping bass, and standard thrash vocals. For me I love a song that starts off with a melodic soft clean intro and then surprises you with a heavy riffs that fill the rest of the song, this is on display on one the album’s finer tracks Martyrs of Eternity with all this intact it makes a stand out song on the record, but not the best. The best track on the whole album in my mind has to be The Infantry Corps because it has a Disposable Heroes feel to it based on the songs lyrical content, which is about young men that enlist in the military just to die for no apparent reason. What also make this track stand out so much is the fastest and also heaviest riffage on the whole album, really fit’s the theme of the song which is great.
All in all this album has what most thrash bands of the late 1980’s already had. Which is heavy in your face riffs, average vocalist, songs about politics and death, and last but not least just decent guitar solos that do not amaze anyone (which isn’t a bad thing). This album should without a doubt be picked up by any thrash metal fan. To be honest it should be picked up by any metal fan in general, for it is great metal to. Now if you are looking to get into thrash do not start here you may not have the appreciation of this right away. Instead check out the Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) you would grow a great appreciation after listening to these bands.
- Great riffs
- Solos that suite the song well
- Great notable bass playing
- Cool lyrics about politics (The Infantry Corps)
- Album art
- Average vocalist
- Some guitar solos may become boring
- Guitar work in general may bore an average listener