Mortician – Titans (Pure Underground Records)Friday, 24th April 2020
Originally around during the 1980’s, Austrian traditional heavy metal band Mortician have been much more active on the release front since their resurrection in 2009. Titans is the group’s third full-length, but first in six years – probably due to some lineup shuffles. Original guitarist Thomas Metzler and original bassist Patrik Lercher remain – with drummer Alex Astivia entering the fold in 2014 and their latest singer Twain Cooper coming in a couple of years ago. Never fear about a change in direction though – Mortician remain committed to a traditional, NWOBHM-influenced sound that can get heavier and slightly thrashier in spots that probably has its most appeal to those early adopters that now have entered their 40’s and 50’s.
Conventional rhythm section mechanics allow Thomas to churn out a steady stream of mid-tempo power riffs and exciting lead activities – the segment where the bass/drums penetrate the groove over some spoken word / narrative aspects allows “Spiral of Death” to be an early album standout. A lot of the musical hooks and melodies come from that early to mid-80’s template – it’s obvious the band have a steady love of Saxon, Judas Priest, and Accept when you check into songs like “Titans of Rock” or “Rebel Heart” (the latter possessing even a pinch of early Twisted Sister / “Under the Blade” touches). There are even those Teutonic-like gang choruses that continue the metallic charm to overflow – “Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the speedier “Hell Raiders” two that serve as possible future favorites when performed live. The sticking point for full recommendation is the delivery and off kilter nature of Twain at the microphone. There’s no doubting his passion for metal – but there are times his screams and upper range just creates nails on a chalkboard impact (“Inmates” and “Screamer” specifically), where you can tell we aren’t dealing with a Dio, Halford, or Dickinson-style voice at play.
Titans will have its cult followers that just love the mix of semi-thrash and conventional metal songs. Just approach cautiously, as with a different singer Mortician could gain a bit more of a wider appeal.