Mortillery - Shapeshifter
Napalm Records
Thrash Metal
9 songs (41' 27")
Release year: 2016
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Andy

Unwilling to content themselves with borrowing Big Four riffs and playing a carbon copy of thrash's heyday in the mid-80s, Canadian thrash outfit Mortillery makes some unconventional choices, resulting in a sound that contains nearly as much NWOBHM and hardcore punk as it does thrash. The sound of their latest LP, Shapeshifter, has hits and misses, the latter of which are more from the band's difficulties in writing memorable songs than any lack of effort. Overall, the listener gets a very modern thrash sound with some unique characteristics, albeit with a number of fixable flaws.

First, let's talk about the hits. Frontwoman Cara McCutchen's shriek of fury can put energy into any song on the album, and even the plainest melodies get a dash of excitement from this alone. The riffing is quick-paced and choppy, and while not achieving the sonic assault that contemporaries like Suicidal Angels or Gama Bomb are capable of, songs such as Black Friday or Bullet can satisfy a medium-level itch for some thrash. The title track's definitely the best, with the band saving the best riffs, beats, and a Maiden-style melody for that one, but the speed-metal urgency of Torture is an excellent track as well, with McCutchen trading off with some short guitar leads.

What falls flat is the execution on some of the songs. Mantis is the worst offender -- all the speed riffing in the world doesn't keep the melody from being flat and boring, and on several songs, McCutchen's screaming abilities even become drawbacks, when she's not given enough variation to work with. When it comes to pure speed, however, Mortillery pulls ahead of the pack; Age of Stone is rock-solid on the technical side, and the ragged screams add an unpredictable edge to what already is above-average on the lead guitar side.

Shapeshifter is not the best thrash I ever heard, but shows some indications that it will improve, especially on the title track. The band's strengths are in their departures from traditional thrash tropes, and listeners who'd like something a little different in the thrash they listen to might want to check Shapeshifter out.

Killing Songs :
Andy quoted 73 / 100
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