It is not often that you can say ‘Back in the day’ and be transported to 1990 (when Mortification first hit the scene). They unleashed the first Christian death metal album ‘Mortification’ in 1991. It was far more brutal than any other christian release at the time. They signed a deal with Nuclear Blast Records who specialised in death metal and released their 1992 follow-up ‘Scrolls Of The Megilloth’ which was a masterpiece of fast death metal with some doom influences. The following years saw their style change to modern groove, thrash metal and hardcore punk with shouted vocals. They would later return to thrash and death metal. Their 16th studio album, ‘Realm of the Skelataur’ sees Steve Rowe (vocals & bass), Lincoln Bowen (lead & rhythm guitars) and Andrew Esnouf (drums) return to Mort’s nineties form of thrashing death metal with unexpected chord changes and off kilter time signatures.
Mort main man Rowe says: ‘I worked very hard for 2 years with Lincoln structuring an album that brings back a mix of THE BEST OF OUR EARLY ALBUMS! “Self Titled” (1991), “Scrolls of the Megilloth” (1992), “Post Momentary Affliction” (1993) & “EnVision EvAngelene” (1996). This album is extremely fast, extremely slow, extremely complex & extremely interesting! It takes you on a journey of extreme christian art that will hammer in every emotion, if, you play it LOUD!!! This work is a tremendous full stop on 25 years of World wide Jesus metal art missions attack to slaughter all demon headz.’
With this being the final Mort album, they open with a slow-burner that starts off doomy and then moves towards thrash. ‘The Cost’ is all about a martyr of the Christian faith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Steve’s vocals are a gravelly growl. “The 1940’s /A hero of the faith / refusing to stop / preaching the gospel / He saw the evil / in the 3rd Reich / Had to protect / the weak and the oppressed”.
‘Feed Your Hungry Ears’ takes off at a galloping pace and has time changes with some staccato riffing. “Fill your ears with words of truth / Your soul is hungry for food / Coming out across the stage / Where the band plays gospel faith”. It is an even faster pace in Extrinsick Forces as Lincoln Bowen’s lyrics takes a look at Steve’s battles with health.
‘Realm of the Skelataur’ has a whole heap of things going on including some outrageous backing vocals and a melodic mid-section rock guitar solo. You might think that ‘Slaughter Demon Headz’ is the shortest track, but there also two extremely short tracks to be found on here. Then Steve manages to fit as many album titles into the lyrics of one song, ‘Our Anthem’.
‘40 Day Fast’ lasts 17 seconds and is followed by ‘Total Thrashing Death’. It starts with a thunderous bass intro and rapidly changes tempo. “Thrashing the death / Killing the fake / Finding the faith / Eternal skies / Living the light”. This is coupled with ‘Enrapture’ which looks at salvation and redemption.
There are 7 seconds of ‘Grave Sucking’ and then it is onto the epic ‘Pushing Weird Buttons’ which looks at how consumerism has overtaken our lives.
It is worth mentioning that the production on here is much better than their previous album and makes a fitting end to the Australian megabeast that is Mortification.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
01. The Cost
02. Feed Your Hungry Ears
03. Extrinsick Forces
04. Realm Of The Skelataur
05. Slaughter Demon Headz
06. Our Anthem
07. 40 Day Fast
08. Total Thrashing Death
10. Grave Sucking
11. Pushing Weird Buttons
Break the Curse (1990)
Scrolls of the Megilloth (1992)
Post Momentary Affliction (1993)
Blood World (1994)
Primitive Rhythm Machine (1995)
EnVision EvAngelene (1996)
Triumph of Mercy (1998)
Hammer of God (1999)
The Silver Cord is Severed (2001)
Brain Cleaner (2004)
Erasing the Goblin (2006)
The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine (2010)
Scribe of the Pentateuch (2012) [review]
Realm of the Skelataur (2015)
Record Label: Rowe Productions, April 2015
Video below: ‘Realm Of The Skelataur’ (live)