REVIEW: MORTILLERY – “Shapeshifter”
A good old thrash album has the potential to pump you up and make you want to break stuff, and despite the new wave of prog metal fandom, thrash is still alive and kicking. Now, the modern era of thrash is spearheaded by American artists like Warbringer, Havok, and Revocation. You may not expect Canada, the ‘Promised Land’ for every technical death metal fan, to spawn a kickass thrash act worthy of following Annihilator’s and Voivod’s footsteps. However, Mortillery is here to prove you wrong.
With a smashing new album, ‘Shapeshifter’, set for release, this female-fronted band from Edmonton, Canada pushes all the right buttons when it comes to intense, adrenaline-inducing thrash. The high-pitched vocals are an added bonus, and are somewhat in the vein of space-thrash act Vektor or even OverKill. Cara McCutchen morphs into a banshee and delivers memorable, angry screams that take Mortillery’s sound to the next level.
Backed by the band, comprising Alex Gutierrez (guitars, vocals), Miranda Wolfe (bass), Kevin Gaudet (drums) and Kent Quinlan (guitar, vocals), McCutchen puts out a performance worthy of placing her amongst the top frontwomen in metal. Right from the start, with the song “Radiation Sickness”, and all the way up to the final, title track “Shapeshifter”, the group does not relent in their modern thrash outing.
Whether it’s the impressive sustained screams and blast beats over tremolo picking in “Mantis”, or the intricately melodious “Wendigo”, the band is at the top of their game. Another example is “At the Gates”, a track which is perhaps a nod in favour of the Swedish melodic death metal veterans of the same name. Featuring multi-layered vocals, a ripping solo, metric modulation and other technical details that get lost under the barrage of thrash, this track and “Torture” make for a great way to approach the finale. As the closing track changes from clean singing and a triplet-based trot to a straightforward groove, Mortillery conclude the album with momentum.
Mortillery’s ‘Shapeshifter’ is, arguably, one of the standout thrash albums to be released this year. While the Canadian band isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, all the standard thrash tropes feature in what will surely be a well-received album among fans of the genre.