Yanking their musical influences from bands such as Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge and Black Label Society, South London’s Mordecai have fused together their own rich, dark, melodic, American hard rock sound – served-up with a gritty twist of British Heavy Metal.
The band confidently enters 2014 in fine fettle – with a new single, a new video and other exciting developments on the horizon.
Their 2013 début album ‘Undaunted’ was recorded at the Grammy award winning ‘Studio A’ in Philadelphia, USA (Bon Jovi, Radiohead).
Our own noble Scriba Pontificus here at METAL AS RELIGION had a listen:
‘Cold Blooded Murder’ is slippery and richly alcoholic, with a low coating of thick syrupy sludge. Guitars gloop with glistening viscosity – and the resinous, darkly stained, vocals rise resolutely from the inky bed. A perfectly executed guitar solo spears out like a minute-man from a bunker… then (suddenly) it’s all over.
‘Red Roses & Black Lies’ has one of those long-slow riff passages that is able to penetrate into the bones and make you growl with pleasure. Dan Hicks (vocals & guitar) manages to entice you into this world with his silver tongue – the vocals are reminiscent of Brent Smith (Shinedown) or perhaps even as intimate and engaging as Eddie Vedder. And the crystallized guitars – they glisten in the latter third of this delicious song – leave the original metal exposed – allowing for the low relief drums (Alex) to shine through with translucence and passion.
‘I’ll Never Know’ walks timidly at first – but the song comes strongly to life when the yearning and somewhat sombre chords fizz and burst out – like dangerous blades of black lava spurting from a tar pit. Then the song suffocates you with its deadly embrace… a mix of after-damp gases … the dark sounds tighten, to wrap around your head … body-locking you into their world, until your last breath is expelled.
‘Living Dead’ is even darker than the previous tracks – a cave of black-strap sounds and occasional shards of guitar light (delivered by Hicks & Andy Short.) These mirror the impressive vocal acrobatics. Then ‘Final Curtain’ emerges with even more impassioned vocals, and a mixture of resonant guitars that seem to implore the case for contrite salvation.
‘Wings’ is the least hurried track on this disc. It starts as a gently meandering acoustic number – but it is so cleverly crafted that you barely notice the song development – as the piece abundantly matures.
‘Left Behind’ is the most glamorous composition on the album and a fitting conclusion to this unifying work. This is an ambitious number and brings to mind inevitable parallels with Black Label Society. The downwards curvature of those dark riffs is exciting and provocative and the cry “I won’t be left behind…” becomes a centrifugal anchor point for the whole song. From here, the guitars seep and bubble – the rhythms retain their rich coating of glaze – before becoming subsumed by the splendor and majesty of those mellifluous arrangements and exclamatory vocals.
‘Undaunted’ is a work that maintains high levels of energy, whilst also seeming sad – and even downhearted – in nature. And this is the magnificence of it. When open to the daylight… the shaken, agitated guitars and the splendid drum-work (together with those robust vocals) become things of transient beauty in an otherwise en-darkened landscape.
And Mordecai manage to transcend their many (obvious) American influences – retaining their own sense of purpose and self-worth – yet still manage to create sound-structures that will appeal to the widest possible audiences.
In other words, Mordecai succeed where others have fallen short.
– © Neil_Mach January 20134 –