Mortal Sin - Psychology of Death
Noise Art Records
Thrash Metal
9 songs (41:44)
Release year: 2011
Noise Art Records
Reviewed by Bar

Despite all the great Metal acts that have come out of Australia over the years, for some reason Thrash is one genre that has never been well represented in the land I call home. Unless you count Hobbs’ Angel of Death, there is really only one Australian band whose work can today be considered classic Thrash Metal. I’m speaking, of course, of the mighty Mortal Sin. It’s a testament to the quality of their 80s output that despite a relatively paltry number of releases, the Sin can still be considered Australia’s foremost Thrash Metal export after all these years. Sadly though, the 90s were not terribly kind to them and like so many great Thrash acts, they disbanded with barely a whimper. After a hiatus of more than 15 years between albums, the boys returned in 2007 with An Absence of Faith, a passable if unspectacular comeback album. We all knew they had a better album in them and evidently, they knew it too. Enter Psychology of Death.

Psychology of Death is just the sort of album that I had desperately hoped for when Mortal Sin originally announced that they had reformed with intention to record. The previous attempt, An Absence of Faith, was a slightly run-of-the-mill Groove Metal album with only faint glimpses of Thrash - the sound of a band not yet completely irrelevant, but apparently unsure of where they fit into the Metal landscape after so many years away. Thankfully, no such concerns plague the compositions that make up Psychology of Death. For anyone familiar with the band’s classic releases, this will feel like an old friend has finally come home. It’s aggressive Thrash Metal that remains incredibly accessible by way of consistently memorable riffs, a fair share of melody and one hell of a knack for a good, catchy chorus. It’s highly reminiscent of their 1989 album Faces of Despair in terms of style and genuinely feels like a continuation of what they started all those years ago, albeit updated with modern production values. In that regard, I suppose it’s kind of like what Metallica promised but largely failed to deliver with Death Magnetic. Ironically, this strength is probably the album’s most obvious weakness too. There’s nothing innovative here, as it’s very firmly stuck in the 80s. Still, it’s damn well done and fans of this stuff won’t mind at all.

Only two original members of the band remain, but they’re both in good form. Bass player and long-time chief songwriter Andy Eftichiou has always been the heart and soul of the band. His songs are the reason for the album’s success, and his bass technique seems to be much improved with age. Vocalist Mat Maurer sounds rather different than you might remember, but he’s no less effective. The youthful, high-pitched wail he employed on the 80s albums has long since abandoned him but he still understands how best to use his now matured voice. It’s a gruff bark, but still retains pleasing tonal dynamics, and is actually well suited to the band’s current sound as the modern production gives them a lot more low-end than they used to have. The guitarists and drummer enlisted are all highly accomplished musicians and the absence of the other original members doesn’t seem to hurt much at all.

Sadly, since the release of this album last year, Mortal Sin have once again disbanded and I wouldn’t be surprised if this time it really is the end of their legacy. If it does eventuate that they never release another album, I’ll be very proud to say Australia’s foremost Thrash band has gone out on a positive note. It may not be anything revolutionary, but the “killing songs” listed below compare favourably to the band's best, and that’s damned well good enough for me. It’s been a fun journey, boys. Best of luck in your future endeavours.

Killing Songs :
Psychology of Death, Burned into Your Soul, Deny, Kingdom of Pain, Down in the Pit
Bar quoted 83 / 100
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