The Sins of Aquarius
posted on 7/2012 By:
Judged solely on the merits of its black/thrash output, Australia must be a filthy, disgusting, and, well, pretty awesome place. With the likes of Deströyer 666, Assaulter, Bestial Warlust, Razor of Occam, Vomitor, Gospel of the Horns, and so on, one would think the country had wrung just about as much filth out of its bones as possible. The venerable Hell’s Headbangers has unearthed another gleaming gem of adrenaline-fueled cantankerous noise, however, in the form of Brisbane’s perfectly-named Mongrel’s Cross, whose debut full-length The Sins of Aquarius falls in line perfectly next to Desaster, Aura Noir, and Nekromantheon as part of 2012's premier league of destruction.
Like so many of the genre’s finest artisans, Mongrel’s Cross plays black/thrash as a pure, thrilling amalgam of the two styles. Sure, there are bound to be moments where the influence of chunky staccato riffing and visions of high-tops protrude a bit more (as on “Hunters of the Born Again”), and moments where the mind fixates on imagery of corpse-paint and fire-breathing (as on “Revelations Transpire”), but for the most part, the style is equal part riff and blast.
Right from the first churning riff, The Sins of Aquarius means goddamn business. Guitarist Grand Mongrel’s vocals are a static, hostile racket, and every last song is absolutely stuffed with top-notch riffs and an unyielding pulse of feral aggression. The opening title track’s chorus stamps around in a barely-restrained thrashing gallop, while “Rabid Inception” teeters between reckless blast-furnace speed and deliberate hammer-striking stutter-stomp sections, all the while lurching forward like a severely distempered beast. As the album blooms further, I find myself occasionally wishing the guitars were a little sharper to allow the riffs to scythe more fully through the wardrums and hellbass and all that, but the sound as a whole works seamlessly to propagate an uneasily-controlled violence.
“Lead Them from the Promised Land” surges in with the sort of impossible-not-to-pump-your-fist-to groove and a sweet solo that should make it an absolute monster of a live tune, (*cough* *hint* Mongrel’s Cross, Chicago is thirsty for some devilish black/thrash.) The riff that bubbles up around 3:30 or so is just another example of fiendish artistry from this band – “Hey, we’ve got so many damn riffs that we can basically afford to peel off this fantastic one, play it through a couple of times and then leave it be because, what’s that over there? Oh yeah, MORE FUCKING RIFFS.” In fact, The Sins of Aquarius could basically be summed in with just those words: more fucking riffs.
Song after song and riff after riff hurtles down from these newest entrants to the absurd Australian pantheon of bloodthirsty metallions. By the time the album chars its way to its conclusion with “When the Dragon Gives Birth,” Grand Mongrel’s vocals have become the howls of a triumphant field marshal, surveying a war-ravaged landscape. The snaky guitar lead that heralds the song’s end traces out the charred tree-line of that same besieged countryside. That countryside is all metal that dares to stagnate or tolerate mindless complacency. Mongrel’s Cross’s campaign has just begun, so watch yourself: Here there be dragons.
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