Sunday, February 4, 2007


This is my review how it originally appeared on the Everyday's A Mordred Day website.

Line-up, as In This Life

Tracks: 1) In Time 2) West County Hospital 3) The Vagrant 4) Reach 5) Close Minded 6) Vision

The final time I saw Mordred, at London’s legendary Marquee Club, they were previewing new material, to the extent that at times Scott Holderby had the lyric sheet at hand for tunes such as Reach and In Time. In 1992 Vision, a mini-lp of sorts, hit the racks, and for some reason it didn’t get great press at all. One magazine said it was ‘average’ and was more Queensryche influenced than anything else!! For me, Vision was a great step forward for the band, branching out into vast soundscapes as well as the usual fusion of funk-drenched guitars, superb scratching and samples, and the usual metal soul. Holderby seemed more involved, having written three of the six songs on this mini-platter, and yet this record was to be Scott’s last outing, and for me, the funeral of this great, underrated band.
Vision is a laid-back slab, cosmically mixed, soulfully tweaked and something akin in stature to Voivod’s magnificent, darkly-tinged Angel Rat opus although that particular opus being more Pink Floyd-esque. If anything, Vision is Mordred moving away from the thrash and becoming a heavy rock act. By 1992 death metal and 'grunge' was taking over, the Bay Area thrash scene was dying, rock was also dying, and it would take quite a few years to re-emerge albeit in regurgitated form, because 1992 was all about so-called grunge, although that scene was mainly late ‘80s, and an underground scene at that, but by 1992 bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had taken over, they were accessible to the masses, maybe there was no more room for Mordred.

In Time kicks in, casually too. It could have fitted perfectly onto In This Life as a companion to Downtown, with its quirky guitars, Scott’s loose tones and the street-wise lyrics, the track, like so many other Mordred tracks, beefed by a solid, memorable chorus and shining percussion. West County Hospital is once again laid-back, no hint of a crunchy riff as such, but this is one of their greatest moments, Holderby’s lyrics hitting the heart, a personal story by the sounds of it, of young desperation, an urge to break free from the strains of society, only this time the chorus is incredibly mellow, highly infectious and very soulful, a sound one would become accustomed to on Holderby’s solo effort Ungodly Blue Sun. West County Hospital is a cool moment, proof that Mordred were keen to expand, to become accessible yet still distinctive, but certainly more mellowed from the previous two efforts, and The Vagrant, previously known as Fragrance Of Vagrance, elaborates on the usual street-wise subjects, this is another track that could have appeared on In This Life yet once again is of a laid-back nature, more of Pauses’ injections, the scatty breaks and the funk-fuelled guitar works, and once again that infectious chorus of, “…can you tell me why, I’m left with no means to survive”, something so predominant on cuts like Lion’s Den, Falling Away etc, that soaring, perfectly rhymed bellow. However, Reach is far different, a spaced out cosmic exercise spruced up with White’s far-reaching lyrical content of the planets, the solar system and all things solarised, this is an immense track, complex in nature that slides with cool scratch bursts and ascends on a chorus straight to the zenith. Lyrically this is once again class, and despite all the great musicianship of the band, as well as the eclectic ideas, lyrically they had always been spot-on, moving between a variety of subjects yet always saying something even if at times unclear, yet clearly psychedelic in content.
Close Minded is probably one of the most predictable Mordred songs. This may sound harsh, but for me it’s the EP’s weakest track, despite still blowing all the opposition away. This is true rap-metal crossover, a pummelling, juggernaut of a riff replacing a hip-hop beat and Pause takes to the mic, he raps as cool as any rapper or other MC, but this is almost too predictable for a band of this quality, with a lyrical content that literally questions why people should be so narrow-minded about this style of music, but it’s a common theme by 1992, and lesser bands such as Body Count, early Anthrax, Beastie Boys, The Hard Corps (to a lesser
extent), and a whole host of latter bands, i.e. Rage Against The Machine, Biohazard, Korn etc, were doing it in the same almost shoddy, commercial manner. Don’t get me wrong, Close Minded is a cool track, but it’s too obvious, as if to say, “…hey, we fuse metal and rap so let’s do a rap over some riffs”, and if anything it’s too simple for this great band, and for me it wasn’t a track trying to be different and it wasn’t a track where people were going to take note because it was common ground by this point even if Vaughn’s lyrics are excellent.
Vision wraps up the platter, a vibrant, buzzing cut awash with colour, Scott’s delivery hazed, the scratching splashing and sprinkling, a mish-mash of cosmic rock and dazed and confused abandon rested upon a mellow chorus, and before you know it this brief EP is over, leaving you begging for more, yet at the time little did this listener know that such dreams were short-coming, this would be the last of the real Mordred, who, by this time had also released three excellent records, a brilliant live video filmed at one of the 1991 London Marquee shows, entitled, In This Live, and three singles. The next record, their worst, The Next Room, an awkward, Holderby-bereft slab of power metal would be the end, although such an end had obviously reared its ugly head long before.
Vision, at the time of its release, didn’t seem to be promoted very well, and it wasn’t received as ecstatically, rumours of ill spates with the press abounded, true or not, but spin this record again and you’ll be swept up in the whirlwind, and the album remains a fitting last word in that it should be called Vision, a word that sums up the world in which Mordred lived…and created, yet which many obscenely ignored. Their loss.


No comments: