Reinvention is a word that comes to mind when listening to seminal Christian metal band Mortification. The Australians have been churning out great death/thrash/groove/punk metal music with a "positive message" since 1990, but they never seem to stick with the same musical formula or vocal stylings from album to album.
Mortification came along and took the "White Metal" sound, glamorized by Stryper in the early '80s, many levels heavier. With its second release, "Scrolls of the Megilloth," Mortification began to achieve great success and recognition, not just in Christian metal circles, but in the death metal genre. After 1993s "Post Momentary Affliction,"
the band went through changes in the Mortification sound, by adding thrash, groove and even punk elements to their songs. Around the time "Hammer of God" was released, their original death metal sound had all but vanished.
With its fourteenth release, "The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine," Mortification have stripped things down and have taken the "less is more" approach to its sound," similar to what Metallica did on its "Black" album. Not to say the songs aren't heavy, just different from their earlier releases. The songs are more mid-paced and groove-based, mixed with punk influences. Originator and mainstay bassist/vocalist Steve Rowe produced and released the album through his own label, Rowe Productions. The CD took three years to record. Was it worth the wait?
It depends. If you like the mid-era releases, then this new one is the closest to comparison. Is it groundbreaking? No, but parts of it are enjoyable nonetheless. The current formation is even tighter sounding throughout "The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine," thanks to guitarist Mick Jelinic and solid drumming by Adam Zaffarese, along with Rowe's stellar bass lines.
The eponymous opener starts off with an awesome drum fill followed by a thrash/punk sounding riff. Rowe's current gruff, deep-growl baritone vocals are not as commanding as his voice was on their earlier releases, or not as "thrashy" as they were on 2006s "Erasing the Goblin" for that matter. There is something missing from the Mortification 2009 sound that I can't quite explain. "The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine" is so different from any other release the band has put out, but they do offer some decent tunes on this release. "One Man With Courage Makes A Majority" and "Pilots Hanging From Shoulders Dust" are great displays of the direction Mortification has currently taken. With its punk-laden bass grooves, heavy riffs and Rowe's growls, make "Pushing The Envelope of the Red Sonrise" a standout.
It took me a few listens to finally understand Mortifications musical approach on "The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine." But most of the songs are just too generic and there's not enough memorable riffs.
Reinvention can mean different things to different people, but fans of Mortification's original sound might be disappointed with its latest offering.The band could even go back to how it sounded on its earlier releases, you never know with Mortification.