Mekong Delta
Lurking Fear


4.5
superb

Review

by ChaoticVortex USER (53 Reviews)
January 11th, 2019 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After a decade of silence, the twisted German orchestra of thrash assembles again.

While Germany’s thrash metal scene is mostly known for its simplistic yet effective aggression characterized by bands like Kreator, Sodom or Destruction, the vital underground scene provided possibilities for others as well. Musicians who thought outside of the musical box and perhaps no other band achieved as much with their unorthodox sound and approach as Mekong Delta. Formed in 1985 under the leadership of bass virtuoso and classical music fanatic Ralph Hubert, the group spent much of the late 80’s and early 90’s releasing some of the most well-crafted and truly progressive albums of the genre, with musicianship and songwriting that always pushed the envelope.

Even with the constantly changing members around him, Hubert managed to create a perfect fusion of aggressive yet complex guitar riffs, with the influence of older and modern classic music, jazz and avant-garde while never crossing the line of becoming an incomprehensible mess of styles and tones. After the band’s most experimental release in 1997 (a thrash metal rearrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) the band went silent for many years to the point where even Hubert’s whereabouts were questioned. But around 2006 news started to come out about a reformation and a year later Lurking Fear was unleashed upon the world.

It could be said, that Mekong Delta made their return at the right time, because the mid 2000’s flourished with the revival of thrash but stylistically they never fitted into the usual crowd even in the 80’s. If anything even after two decades of musical evolution their music remained just as exciting, challenging and unique as it was on classics such as The Music of Erich Zann and Dances of Death. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And Hubert stayed true to this. Frantic and intense compositions with unexpected tempo changes" Check. Wailing guitar solos" Check. Thrash-styled takes on classic musical pieces" Check.

Right from the chaotic opening power chords of “Society In Dissolution”, Lurking Fear vibrates from pure energy as the guitars and drums whirl into fast, often dissonant riffs and breakdowns. Hubert always gathered top notch musicians for his commanding compositions and the players on Lurking Fear are no amateurs: Peter Sjöberg, former guitarist of the tech death band Theory in Practice spews one crazy and hypnotic riff after the other. The crunching accords and melodic leads line in perfectly with the band’s other albums, but the guitar work and the songs themselves have a much more menacing and violent edge to them. The dark and cold atmosphere is also enforced by the sharp production and Uli Kusch’s amazingly hard-hitting and powerful drumming.

Lurking Fear is no short of breathtaking tech-thrash displays. Whether it’s the wild, jumpy galloping of “Immortal Hate”, the vortex-like flow of “Rules Of Corruption” or the inspired takes on the work of 20th century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. The only question remaining is there a vocalist out there who can match the twisted falsetto of Wolfgang Borgmann or Doug Lee" Enter former Wolf Spider and Scanner vocalist Leo Szpigiel whose register can charge into the higher tones but he also effectively mixes them with simple, percussive gang shouts. It fits well with the paranoid, unhinged sound and feel of the album.

Efficiently covering all of their former territories with 10 songs and 49 minutes, Mekong also manages to update their sound to the new millennium and maintain a sense of urgency, something that often feels lacking in modern thrash metal albums. Even the 7 minute behemoth “Defenders Of The Faith” paces its swirling instrumentalization and changing patterns in a way that that doesn’t becomes an indulgent exercise for the band to see just how much they can stuff into one song. High leveled-musicianship, open minded attitude and discipline are virtues, and when they all come together it results in inspired music. Mekong Delta has been doing it for 30 years now. Let’s hope they keep it up in the future as well.



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user ratings (37)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ChaoticVortex
January 11th 2019


735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As always any constructive criticism is welcome.

Casavir
January 11th 2019


3090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"While Germany’s thrash metal scene is mostly known for its simplistic yet effective aggression characterized by bands like Kreator, Sodom or Destruction, the vital underground scene provided possibilities for others as well."



From '86 onward, Destruction wasn't even remotely comparable to the other two as they were basically among the earliest bands to usher in technical thrash with Release from Agony practically being neck and neck with Mekong Delta's debut.



Otherwise, great review and pos.

ChaoticVortex
January 11th 2019


735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, although I would argue that while Release from Agony was indeed a major step-up for Destruction but still not even nearly as complex and abrasive as the first Mekong albums. Deathrow's Deception Ignored on the other hand was most certianly up there.

StrikeOfTheBeast
January 11th 2019


4626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Menkong Delta \m/

Digging: Ariana Grande - Thank U, Next

Casavir
January 11th 2019


3090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd argue that Release from Agony (and Eternal Devastation even) were about as abrasively technical for the time given that a lot of Destruction post-Infernal Overkill is pretty much given the side-eye despite it being ahead of many of the era's more prominent names in the genre like Coroner.



Besides, Mekong Delta blossomed more in that regard when Music of Erich Zann was released.

StrikeOfTheBeast
January 11th 2019


4626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pictures at an Exhibiton is better than I remember it being. Good stuff.

Casavir
January 11th 2019


3090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Strike, how is this worse than late '80s Kreator?

StrikeOfTheBeast
January 11th 2019


4626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Don't get me wrong, I love tech./prog. thrash like the next guy in line (Hell I 5'd both of Realm's studio albums for example), and my horizons for thrash are without boundaries, but I also love my grittier, less technical thrash just as much, if not more to an extent. Everything about 80's Kreator just "clicks" for me. They're not for everyone of course, especially their first two albums.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2019


8191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is the closest Mekong Delta have been to power metal, yet it still kicks ass.

Digging: Sordide - Hier Dj Mort

Casavir
January 11th 2019


3090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"This album is the closest Mekong Delta have been to power metal, yet it still kicks ass."



How?

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2019


8191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^^Album’s partly tailored for Szpigiel‘s vocals, which have a solid power metal background.

Casavir
January 11th 2019


3090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"^^Album’s partly tailored for Szpigiel‘s vocals, which have a solid power metal background."



I mean, it's not the first time a thrash metal album has had clean vocals.

ChaoticVortex
January 11th 2019


735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Honestly I feel that Visions Fugitives is much closer ties to european heavy/power metal than this one. This a very visceral and cold thrash album.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2019


8191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^^Due to the classical suites clocking in a good part of the album, I remember tethering Visions Fugitives to progressive rather than power metal, also due to Doug Lee’s quirky vocal style.



That’s just me though.



This a very visceral and cold thrash album.

2-3 tracks more that fit your description (Uli Kusch fuckin’ rips his drum kit therein!!!), the rest feel more or less to Mekong Delta’s interpretation of Euro-power/Judas Priest metal, for me at least.





I mean, it's not the first time a thrash metal album has had clean vocals.

Usually, when that happens, thrash is bordering speed metal, which is half brother to both thrash and power, hence my initial style assessment.

Itsonlyme
January 13th 2019


105 Comments


Good review. Pos'd. But I would not call Kreator simplistic. It' s very agressive and not always surprising but on technical level very proficient.

Casavir
January 13th 2019


3090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Good review. Pos'd. But I would not call Kreator simplistic."



The countless mediocre melodeath albums that use albums like Extreme Aggression and Coma of Souls as a foundation show otherwise.



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