Sunday, February 4, 2007


This review of mine also originally appeared on the EVERYDAY'S A MORDRED DAY website.
Scott Holderby - Vocals
Danny White - Guitars
James Sanguinetti - Guitars
Art Liboon - Bass
Gannon Hall - Drums
Aaron (Pause) Vaughn - Turntables

Tracks: 1) InThis Life 2) The Strain 3) High Potency 4) Window 5) Esse Quam Videri 5) A Beginning 6) Falling Away 7) Killing Time 8) Downtown 9) Progress 10) Larger Than Life
It was a weird time, like a whole new era. From the risky business and slight diversity of Fool’s Game, the metal scene had all of a sudden become soaked in the sweat of band-wagon jumpers, trend followers and sickly, sweet rip-off’s. Fool’s Game seemed almost ‘years ago’ and yet in two years Mordred had become one of the leaders of a pack fronted by giants such as Faith No More, bands who’d taken metal to new extremes, still providing aggression, and yet somehow letting it walk hand-in-hand alongside soul, industrial smash-up’s, death metal growls, country ‘n’ western twangs and avant-garde ramblings. Anthrax had tried it, the Beastie Boys were moving into it, Chilli Peppers and Fishbone were now serious leaders instead of cartoon tamperers, French-Canadian thrashers Voivod took it beyond psychedelia and Mordred were all of a sudden in the Top 75 of the U.K. charts, it was bizarre, fresh and yet so intoxicating.
DJ Pause was permanent, James Sanguinetti now responsible for the crunchy, sharp riffs, and the band on the whole had escaped from the Bay Area thrash assault that other acts were still stuck in, or what they called ‘sticking to their guns’, but the innovation of Mordred was immense, people started to get it, others were irritated that it spawned horrific spin-off’s such as the UK’s Ignorance and Scat Opera, the German outfit Freaky Fukin’ Weirdoz, and U.S. atrocities such as Scatterbrain and Psychefunkupus. Some called it a new scene, others labelled it ‘funk metal’, that name alone killed it, tarred it and cursed it, because
any band around 1991 that meddled with something different was bogged down by the comparisons and corniness. Mordred were still far removed from that scene despite Liboon’s bass-lines taking on a funky twist, the grooves in general becoming far more melody based, even with the thrashier outings, and now Pause was very much involved, sprinkling even the most furious of tracks with rap samples, spasticated scratches and keyboard quirks. For me, it was one of the most eagerly anticipated records of all time, and to this day it hasn’t left the turntable. Wrapped in a green-tinged industrial sleeve, complete with some of the finest, gritty, smoke-filled lyrics, this album astonished, perplexed and writhed in its own psychedelic crunchiness, revelled in its ghetto groove and was just too damn cool for my friends! The title cut bubbled in on a cool bass strut and Holderby took to the mic, a rap-style flow injected with a deep, chanted chorus of, “…make your own way, in this life, have to find a way to rise above the pain and strife”. The Strain fluently cuts in, Pause becomes evident, big time jerks in the thrash department, a cutting edge, heavy rhythm based upon a topic more akin to something off a rap album, lyrics of the street, the social despair, gunshot wounds and drugs. This was not funk metal, and neither was it thrash, and whilst other cool bands such as Last Crack, Mindfunk, I Love You and Love/Hate were mixing styles, In This Life was something else, up there with Faith No More’s The Real Thing as a cauldron of styles, somehow accessible, yet oh so complex in its volume of diversity. High Potency and Window keeping the riffs real, but it was the immense quirkiness of Esse Quam Videri that did it, the one track, like a more stylish sequel to Everyday’s A Holiday drenched in jingly, funk guitars, slap bass, Scott’s flittering tones and cosmic lyrics interwoven by an almost hip-hop backing made even more street-wise by Pauses’ rapping, yes, rapping, something so common now amongst the ‘nu-metal’ crowd and yet so commercial, but back then it was a rare sound, something used by only a handful of bands such as 24-7-Spyz, Anthrax etc. Esse Quam Videri (meaning, ‘to be rather than to seem’), is one of the band’s finest moments, a sweaty, orgasmic, flippant, epileptic circus of atmosphere, sexual innuendo and strobe light ecstasy. It remains one of the album’s greatest moments, and yet the album has no weak moments. (This track was also brilliantly remixed as a single, backed with two live cuts, and was promoted on late night t.v. with a superb, psychedelic video).
Side Two kicks off with an acoustic intro, entitled A Beginning, to the might that is Falling Away, a pounding, black and white vision of street life, possessing some of the most chilling, searing melodies, Holderby’s most spiteful delivery and a general groove that shudders and sends icy shivers down the spine. It was a single for the band, backed with the brilliant cover of Thin Lizzy’s Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed and cool, horn-based new cut Lion’s Den, and the promotional video was as
equally cool, an urban short movie where t.v.’s fall from high windows, played out like some gritty, downtown cop movie. Killing Time is as equally industrial in its outlook, an echoing stride beyond the realms of thrash, fusing complex melodic rock with biting thrash fusion, and then we are back to the red-light coolness that only Mordred can create, the ska-influenced Downtown, like something from 'Starsky & Hutch', this slow-tempo number is straight from the San Francisco gutter, Holderby’s lyrics (even though the band often stated that Holderby wasn’t involved enough on the records!) a laid-back drool so cool that they wear shades. Downtown walks casually through a sound reminiscent of English band The Police (fronted by Sting), a strutting, smoking joint of a number shattered suddenly by the battering ram that is Progress, the true thrash number on the album, a spiteful attack on mankind’s harsh treatment of the Earth, and a number which sounds like a more modernised of say Fool’s Game’s faster numbers. The album ends with another laid-back, scratch-spliced injection, the arrogant Larger Than Life which would soon be echoed by the Vision EP title cut, Scott’s vocal buzz soaring from the debris of Pauses’ eccentric scratches and the chanted words of , “..stand my ground, won’t back down”, before the record finally stomps to its end, the needle lifts and there is silence. However, anyone in their right mind will reach for the needle immediately afterwards, just like I did, and once again sit through this black cauldron of a record, to pick out the stunning chords, the streetwise vocals, the trickling bass-lines, the complex drums and the variety of cool samples which a few years before the metal world would never of dreamed of having alongside thrash guitars.
In This Life is one of the finest, most inventive and original rock records ever made, for it’s time it is a milestone, an ignored landmark, but for this brief period, Mordred were selling out shows across Europe, the metal press ranted and raved about their style (the album received a five-K rating in Kerrang! Magazine) and their live shows, and bands from all over the world began to incorporate such styles into their own sound. However, the scene became a suffocating, sickly mess where quantity outweighed the quality. The main bands within the scene, i.e. Mordred, Faith No More, et al had to either move on or suffer tragically and go from cult stars to non-existent, and in the case of bands such as Mindfunk, that’s exactly what happened.

In This Life is a classic. Simply as that. A timeless record that puts today's so-called innovative artists to shame.


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