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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


The Noise Years

Review by Gary Hill

Mordred is quite an interesting band. I have to admit to never having heard of them before. This new collection gathers up all the music from their first incarnation into one box set. They released a new album this year, and that's the only thing not here. The band started with a sound that was sort of NWOBHM merged with thrash and a little funk thrown into the mix. By the second album they were running more heavily on that funk angle, seeming to be in the same vein as Living Colour. By the third album they sounded closer to alternative rock, but still maintained a lot of those other sounds, feeling a little like Faith No More with some Alice in Chains thrown in. The thing is, every sound and every album included here is great. Their sound is unusual and interesting. This also includes an EP that was released during the original run as a bonus on the third CD and some bonus tracks on the second disc, too.

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Track by Track Review
Disc One:
Fool’s Game
State Of Mind

A meaty and rather mean riff brings this song, and the album, in. They work out from there with driving smoking hot metal. This is a frantic and fierce metal stomper.

Spectacle Of Fear
Some serious thrash is on the menu here. This is a screamer that makes me think of early Metallica.
Every Day’s A Holiday
Now here we get a big change. While this still has plenty of mean, thrashy metal in the mix, it also is packed full of funk. It's a screaming hot tune that really rocks and brings something unique to the table.
More standard metal is in place on this stomper. This is very much in the NWOBHM school.
Sever And Splice
More thrashy, we're back into the early Metallica type territory. Mind you, there were so many bands doing that kind of music back then, but it's just easier to say that it's Metallica-like.
The Artist
They stay in the thrash zone for this. This one is both raw and technical. It has some killer melodic moments amidst the fury.
More of the NWOBHM style is driving this thing. It's got some real meat and cool hooks on it. The vocal arrangement is among the most mature and effective of the set. There is some guitar in the instrumental section that actually makes me think of Adrian Belew. That is an impressive (if short) twist on expectations.
Reckless Abandon
More fierce and raw metal, this is not a big stretch from other music of the time. That said, it's just exceptionally well done.
Super Freak
Yes, this is  a cover of the Rick James classic. I have to admit to being a big fan of funk, and Mr. James' music. So, this really speaks to me. It's a cool version and has some interesting layering of sound.
This has some killer technical guitar work in the middle of it. Beyond that it's a pretty straight-forward NWOBHM screamer. Still, it has some crazed bass work and some other interesting little touches.
Disc Two:
In This Life
In This Life

Some amazing bass work starts this. As the guitar joins this feels a bit like a metallic fusion piece. That intro runs for a little less than the first minute. Then they change directions, twisting to some fierce, driving metal. The vocals come over with a cool almost rapped approach that brings a different angle. This a meaty tune that is so unique. This earns a parental advisory.

The Strain
Raw and funky, this is a screamer. It's another that's o unique and so cool. The merging of metal with funk is so seamless. It's also so effective.
High Potency
The bass work on this is exceptional. The cut deftly combines funk and thrash into something so tasty. This set is going from strength to strength by this point.
The sounds of a radio tuning and news broadcasts start things here. The cut grinds out from there with more killer funk metal. Again, the bass really shines on this thing. The bass break is on fire. The guitar work that comes over the top is melodic and fierce at the same time.
Esse Quam Videri
This is more of a pure funk tune. It's also amazing. Everything about this is classy, but again the bass work stands out. There is a thrashy metal movement later, too. There is a cool rap later in the track, too.
A Beginning
Here we have a short intro to the next tune. It's a mellower and intricate acoustic guitar solo.
Falling Away
While this has more pure metal in this mix, this is definitely not your garden variety stuff. There is some powerhouse technical metal jamming. It's just a killer driving metal stomper that has a lot of style and unique charm. It's much more of a NWOBHM sounding piece than the previous numbers on this disc were, though.
Killing Time
This powerhouse has plenty of metal and funk in the mix. There are a couple little breaks that feel like a sample from James Brown to me.
There are almost some proggy elements here. This is very much a funk metal stomper. It's so cool. It's also another piece that feels quite unique. I'm reminded just a little of Rush's 80s sound by some of the guitar parts on this. This does earn a parental advisory for the spoken sound-bite samples.
Killer thrashy metal is at the core of this screamer. I really the pounding driving intensity of the song. I'm also a big fan of the expressive guitar solo.
Larger Than Life
There are some killer hooks on this metal stomper. It has a sample that is a spoken bit from some kind of self-help recording. The guitar solo on this is very meaty.
Bonus Tracks:
Lion’s Den

I love the funky jam that opens this. The cut gets more purely metallic further down the road. This definitely makes me think of Living Colour to a large degree.

Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed
I dig this killer stomper a lot. The metal and funk concepts are woven together into a classy tapestry. This is an intriguing updating of the Thin Lizzy song.
Intro/Killing Time (live)
Some stage banter serves as the "intro" part. They fire out into some killer funk rocking music from there with some definite early hip hop in the mix, too. It turns to some really thrashy metal as it continues.
Every Day’s A Holiday (live)
Earning a parental advisory, this live version of the band's best-known song is on fire. Both the guitar and the bass get some seriously impressive workouts. This is fierce.
Disc Three:
The Next Room
Lo-Cal, Hi-Fiber

Fierce, and screaming hot, this is much more pure metal. That said, the bass still brings the funk at points. This is a more modern, yet still old-school sound. It's also on fire. As good as everything on the first two discs was, this takes it to a completely different level. It's angry and so strong.

There are mostly spoken vocals at the start of this, but I wouldn't call them a rap. There is a bit more of a melodic, anthemic, almost classic rock vibe to this thing. It has some hints of things like Alice In Chains, but it's more decidedly metallic. It's another winner. This gets a small advisory for the lyrics.
I love the powerhouse bass work on this piece. The cut has more of a laid back approach, but it is nothing close to a ballad. Imagine funky classic rock and you'll be in the right zone. This gets more rocking later, but it has a lot of alternative rock in the mix when it does. This thing is screaming hot and has some more of that killer bass work.
Splinter Down
Starting with a mellower sound, a bit like something Iron Maiden might do, this works out from there through a lot of cool twists and turns.
A strange, but so cool, jazzy jam brings this into being. As the cut continues we get a legitimate rap over the top of the arrangement. This earns a parental advisory, part of which comes from the use of the "n word." After this rap movement, the cut fires into screaming hot metal. It continues by alternating between the powerhouse metal stomping and the rapping. The jazzy thing returns at the end.
Pauper’s Wine
Funk and dramatic mellower metal sounds merge as this gets underway. It really feels like something that could have come out of the 1970s. The vocals come in with a classic rock vibe over the top of that arrangement. This tune works forward from there with more twists and turns into the mainstream rock zones. There is sort of a false ending. Percussive elements and a sound like a car starter are heard as it comes out of that. The piece continues with other effects, and the starter returns later. It is a strangely compelling piece of weirdness that serves to end the song.
Meaty metal mixed with alternative rock and funk is on the menu here. It's another classy cut, but not a standout.
Murray The Mover
I love the catchy riffs on this thing. Again, I'm reminded of Alice in Chains, but also Living Colour. This is meaty and has such a great groove. It also earns another parental advisory. The funky jam mid-track is so classy.
In A Turn
A bit mellower, the funk and classic rock vibes are both back at the start of this cut. There is another strange percussive thing, with someone who sounds like he's in pain as part of it, at the end of this.
The Trellis
Fast paced and furious, this one has a lot of funk in the mix, but is also packed full of pure metal. The guitar solo section is both incendiary and technical. This feels more like the previous album than anything else here does. It's a real powerhouse. 
The Next Room Over
This is an unusual track. There something here that sounds like a sampled voice that brings a bit of a world music element to the track. The piece has some proggy tendencies and is, other than that "voice," an instrumental. It does get metallic at times, but actually stays more in the melodic art rock territory. While I like the variety this brings, I don't think it stands as tall as a lot of the rest of the band's music.
Rubber Crutch
Screaming hot, this has a lot of that alternative rock thing at play. This is heavy, pretty catchy and quite meaty. There is another odd segment at the end of this. It's percussive, but also has a sound a bit like Gregorian chant that is joined by a sample that sounds like a military marching chant.
Bonus Tracks taken from the ‘Vision’ EP
In Time

This is more of a melodic jam with a lot of cool concepts at play. It's a classy tune.

West County Hospital
This is a more metallic piece, but it has a mellower, melodic break section, too. It is one that is a bit more connected to that NWOBHM sound.
The Vagrant
I dig the funk meets NWOBHM texture to this cut. It's another powerhouse stomper that has a lot of class.
There are some killer sounds and concepts on this track. It has some particularly meaty guitar work. The bass is on fire, too.
Close Minded
Combining metal and hip hop with some serious funk, this is another interesting piece.
More of a fierce metal screamer, this is energetic and meaty. I'm reminded a little of Faith No More on this one.
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