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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Mekong Delta

Lurking Fear

Review by Gary Hill

My first exposure to Mekong Delta was when I was working on my book The Strange Sound of Cthulhu – Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft. I found that they had done an album based on one of Lovecraft’s stories, so  I made contact and included them in the book. I also reviewed it for Music Street Journal. Well, the band has a new CD out. The title is certainly Lovecraftian (he had a story by the same name), but I didn’t get a lyric sheet with my copy, so I can’t tell you if this has any ties beyond that to the works of Lovecraft. In any event, this album is full of powerhouse technical metal. It’s a real screamer from beginning to end. While you might hear echoes of King Diamond, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and others here and there, in reality this is uniquely Mekong Delta. It’s also a great album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Society In Dissolution
Frantic King Crimson like jamming brings this in. After a crescendo they rip out into a more standard (but ferociously fast) metal progression. This is a pure screamer. They move through a few changes on this one and the guitar purely screams during its soloing. What a monstrous shredfest this is!

Purification
They slow things down a bit with this one. The funny thing is, this isn’t a slow track. It’s actually pretty fast, but it seems slow in comparison to the song that lead things off. The vocal arrangement on this has multiple layers of melody and seems almost prog rock in its delivery. It’s set over the top of a crunching rifforama, though. This turns into a killer thrash meets prog metal journey later. The whole track, like this whole disc, is all over the musical map, veering in one direction and then another.
Immortal Hate
Superfast, this comes in with a very classical type progression, but delivered in a total metal motif. The vocals on this one have a more typical metal feel than the previous piece and somehow this tune, still veering here and there, is more accessible then the two that preceded it. In fact, I’d say that this thrill ride is one of my favorites on show here. It’s a scorcher.
Allegro Furioso
As one might guess from the title, this instrumental is fiery crunchfest that is essentially classical music turned metallic. This is a powerhouse and another highlight of the disc. The technical skill and the effect of the piece both make it stand tall on an album that’s full of killer music. It’s amazing!
Rules of Corruption
This is more straightforward metal than a lot of the disc. It’s no less ferocious or powerful, though. It’s a bit more accessible, but still manages to veer this way and that as it carries on. This seems at times a bit like a more technical Motorhead to me. Of course that’s strictly the music, not the vocals. The bridge on this is particularly mean and meaty. We also get some short bursts of bass soloing on this – not something you hear often in heavy metal. As with a lot of the disc, this has hints of King Diamond in its midst.

Ratters
If the last track (and several others on show here) had some influence of King Diamond it seems the references here are Iron Maiden and Royal Hunt. Of course, those don’t really cover all the territory here. There’s also plenty of progressive rock in this track, too – most explicitly in the vocal arrangement – which is another that’s rather unusual. The bass driven powerhouse jam later in the piece is stunning.
Moderato
We get a bit of a break here with a sedate, classical music styled introduction. When this screams up into metallic fury it’s with one of the coolest jams of the disc. Soundtrack type music merges with the metal themes and this is just another killer cut. It’s dramatic and definitely different than a lot of the other stuff here. I swear we get bits of the Star Wars theme music in the midst of this. It’s another piece that is very much a classical piece delivered in metallic fashion. It’s also another highlight of the album. This instrumental definitely has ties to progressive rock.
Defenders of the Faith
No, they aren’t covering Judas Priest. Instead, we get another frantic, technical jam that has echoes of King Diamond in its midst. This is yet another screamer on a disc of screamers. There are some Eastern tones to the musical stylings at times. This moves out to a more melodic (but still crunchy) jam for a time and then we even get some flamenco guitar in the midst of the musical chaos before they bring it back out to the song proper.
Symphony Of Agony
The riff that’s starts things off here is exceptionally meaty. That’s appropriate because this scorcher, while not differing in terms of overall style from much of the material here, is a monster that’s probably the strongest cut here. I can hear echoes of early Priest in the vocals, but this shredder is super technical metal that manages to wander all over the musical map and still feel cohesive. This is how it’s supposed to be done.
Allegro
This almost feels like punk rock at first, but then it shifts out to more crunch laden shredding. It’s another killer and possibly the fastest music on show here. It’s got definite ties to classical music. It’s a thrilling ride and a great way to end the CD.
 
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