Mortal Sin – Mayhemic Destruction / Face Of Despair (Re-issues)
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 35:24 (Mayhemic Destruction) / 43:34 (Face Of Despair)
Review by Chris Galea
7.5/10 (Mayhemic Destruction) / 8/10 (Face Of Despair)
Despite being flagbearers of Australian Metal, I get the feeling that Mortal Sin remain underacknowledged. That is partly why, despite the fact that I normally steer clear of re-issues, I accepted to write a few words about Mortal Sin’s first two albums… currently re-released by Cherry Red Records for a new generation of Metal fans.
Back in 1986, a year after the band’s formation in Sydney, Mortal Sin released “Mayhemic Destruction”. Prior to that, the band members had already been honing their skills with local Metal acts Wizzard and Judge. Totally self-financed, “Mayhemic Destruction” was an album’s worth of demo tracks and reflected the band’s angst, naiveté and eagerness to push the boundaries of heaviness.
Reflecting on the band’s approach to this album, vocalist Matt Maurer said in a recent interview: “We had a lot of fun when we recorded the album. We basically went in there to have a party and just to see what our songs would sound like. It wasn’t very professional from our standpoint because we had no idea what we were doing.” (Stay Heavy webzine, 2022).
Although the album’s production was quite decent, it wasn’t as good as what other bands from U.S.A.’s west coast were coming up with at the time. This comparison is not accidental because Mortal Sin were directly influenced by the musical conjuring’s of peers such as Anthrax, Exodus, Slayer and Metallica. I mean “Mayhemic Destruction” even has a song called ‘Into The Fire’.
Songs such as ‘Lebanon’ and ‘Liar’ were, and still are, absolute Thrash gems. And the title-track was a calling to mosh-pits. Matt Maurer’s screams and range are impressive – his singing really raises the level of the songs a notch. “Mayhemic Destruction” revealed a band with lots of potential, and sure enough…
“Face Of Despair”
In the Spring of 1989, Mortal Sin released their second album “Face Of Despair”. Barely a few moments into the album, the intro and Andy Eftichiou’s bass-line of ‘I Am Immortal’ make it abundantly clear that Mortal Sin had upper their game. Guitarist Mick Burke replaced Keith Kristin in playing alongside Paul Caruana and this change seems to have resulted in sharper axework.
But the most important change was actually the employment of Randy Burns to produce the album. Back then, Burns was starting to earn a reputation as the go-to guy for producing successful Metal albums – only a few months before doing “Face Of Despair” for Mortal Sin he had just engineered Possessed’s “Seven Churches” and Megadeth’s “Peace Sells…”. Indeed, “Face Of Despair” was, sonically-speaking, strides ahead of “Mayhemic Destruction”.
However, the shattering screams of Matt Maurer were gone and this was a rather disappointing factor. This is not to say that Maurer’s singing had regressed because, as songs such as ‘The Infantry Corps’ show, the album has very solid vocals. Another interesting note was that Maurer’s lyrics seem to be more politically-charged in this album.
With “Face Of Despair”, the comparisons with Anthrax (whether intentional or not) became even more pronounced and I’m not sure that that was a good thing. Nevertheless, the album contained no shortage of bona fide Thrash classics, such as ‘I Am Immortal’ and ‘Voyage Of The Disturbed’.
Just as “Face Of Despair” was being released, drummer Wayne Campbell was replaced by Steve Hughes, who today is known more for his stand-up comic routines than for his drumming. The band finally started to perform outside Australia but soon also Matt Maurer left. Line-up volatility, lack of adequate label support and the fact that it had taken Mortal Sin too long to export their brand of Thrash meant that the band’s future was uncertain. In reality the band’s longevity would prove greater, if somewhat irregular, than what omens were suggesting. But that’s another story.
“Mayhemic Destruction” is being re-released as digipak CD and red vinyl while “Face Of Despair” is being brought back to life in digipak and golden brown vinyl.
Current single YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKVc-Q0dQPA
01. The Curse (instrumental)
02. Women In Leather
05. Blood, Death, Hatred
06. Mortal Slaughter
07. Into the Fire
08. Mayhemic Destruction
Face Of Despair
01. I Am Immortal
02. Voyage of the Disturbed
03. The Infantry Corps
04. For Richer For Poorer
05. Martyrs of Eternity
06. Innocent Torture
07. Suspended Animation
09. Terminal Reward
10. Robbie Soles
Mat Maurer – Vocals
Paul Caruana – Guitars
Keith Kristin – Guitars (“Mayhemic Destruction” only)
Mick Burke – Guitars (“Face Of Despair” only)
Andy Eftichiou – Bass
Wayne Campbell – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.