Rigor Mortis – Slaves to the Grave (Rigor Mortis Records)

Sunday, 28th September 2014
Rating: 8/10

A real shame Rigor Mortis guitarist Mike Scaccia will never get to see fruits of his labor, having passed away in December of 2012 due to a massive heart attack. Scaccia, more recently known for his work as Al Jourgensen’s side-dude in Ministry, was able to complete his parts just days before his passing, which was an unfortunate, but fortunate stroke of luck. Rigor Mortis may have perpetually hung around the mid-level of thrash throughout their brief career, but consider Slaves to the Grave a worthy opus regardless of the circumstances.

There’s a small sample size to go off for Rigor Mortis prior to Slaves to the Grave, most notably their 1988 self-titled debut, which saw release by major label Capitol Records. Therefore, they’re brutal, meat-and-potatoes thrash approach doesn’t have as much tread as some of their contemporaries, nor does it have much in the way of similarities to said contemporaries. Rather, the hyper-tremolo picking of Scaccia (a trademark of Ministry as well) is the focal point across Slaves to the Grave. Cuts like “Poltergeist,” “Flesh for Flies,” and “Curse of the Draugr” each bear the mark of Scaccia’s identifiable, wrist-shredding playing. However, it’s the melodic leanings found on the aforementioned “Poltergeist” and “Blood Bath” that give Slaves to the Grave a welcome level of dynamics generally not encumbered by vintage thrash bands. (Read: Most of these guys are trying to out-brutal one another.)

Working around the animated, sometimes comedic vocals of Bruce Corbitt isn’t too much of an issue, although one could certainly balk at the shallow, cliché subject matter found within. But, small gripes these are. Rigor Mortis, as the story goes, never got their just due, and couldn’t even get a label to bite on the release of Slaves to the Grave (the album was crowd-funded), so consider these guys one of the tried and true working man’s thrash bands. Scaccia has a lot to be proud of, that’s for sure.

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