REVIEW: MARK MORTON – “Anesthetic”
The artist we are talking about today needs to Introduction. He has spent the last 3 decades playing some blistering riffs with an iconic band that went on to define the sound of the new wave of American heavy metal. Known for a unique playing style he has given us memorable and intriguing songs like Vigil, Walk with me in Hell, and Redneck. It comes as no surprise that he likes to throw in the occasional oddball which often works in his favor so when Mark Morton announced His solo project last December of 2018, I was very interested to know what would be on offer. Sources and interviews established that this was going to a collaborative effort with various artists and Morton also made clear that this project will not feature “Just a bunch of smelly dudes”. ‘The Truth is Dead’ was released on YouTube and featured his Lamb of God bandmate Randy Blythe and Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz on vocals duties but what caught a lot of attention was the posthumous collaboration on ‘Cross off’ with late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. Let’s find out what ‘Anesthetic’ brings to the table.
Starting off with what we know, the album opens with ‘Cross Off’. It features Chester’s vocals, some deep lyrical content and a blast of reminiscence, or nostalgia, or both depending on how much of an impact the singer’s music had on your life. Closing track ‘The Truth is Dead’ is a brutally catchy number with blistering riffs and ripping growls. It’s also nice to hear both Randy and Alissa do some clean vocal bits through the songs making it almost sound like a duet. If these two tracks were enough to get your attention, then let me assure you we are only at the tip of the iceberg. ‘Sworn Apart’ features Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix and brings an alternative vibe along with Mark Lanegan on ‘Axis’ which adds a grunge element to the hard rock track. ‘Save Defiance’ features Alice in chains Myles Kennedy and is personally my favorite on this record. It’s got some soulful melodic elements and catchy chorus bits. The album even indulges in some old school metal with songs like ‘Back from the Dead’ & ‘The Never’ featuring Buckcherry’s Josh Todd and Testaments Chuck Billy respectively. Morton also goes down the experimental path with ‘Reveal’ featuring Naemaah Maddox and even gives us some vocals on ‘Imaginary Days’. ‘Blur’ is trippy and for some reason rings a very southern element to it.
At approximately 42 minutes in length, Anesthetic offers the widest spectrum of music so far in the year and has simply blown me away. Not only does Morton demonstrate his range and capability as a musician but even manages to absorb and recreate musical elements in each track differently from the other and suited to the genre of music of the collaborating artist yet manages to keep his signature in the sound without overpowering it. It also credits a plethora of talented musicians like Ray Luzier, Alex Bent, Roy Mayorga, and even the great David Ellefson. another aspect this album succeeds at is emotion. Not only is it well produced, but it also has a very analog experience in terms of sound and the emotional aspect of things. You feel very connected to each song and in my case, I could relate to several of them. Not to forget there is no shortage of some brilliant guitar solos. Some may criticize the record for being all over the place but quite honestly, the fact that you can just fit it into one checkbox is what makes this album an unparallel experience. At the end of going through this album countless times over, it’s easy to say that this qualifies to be in the running of my album of the year, and probably will for you too.
‘Anesthetic’ is not only an exhibition of the sheer range of Mark Morton’s musical ability but also brings you an unparallel experience of music, melody, and emotion.