I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I am some longtime, die-hard RIGOR MORTIS fan. That would be disrespectful to them, and to you dear readers. What I can tell you is that I knew of them, kind of heard some stuff back in the day and never really thought about it again. Enter the summer of 2014 and a brand new/final RIGOR MORTIS album, Slaves to the Grave, and with it a shit-ton of buzz. Well, as soon as I heard “Flesh for Flies” I was all in. I immediately made plans to hit the CD release show here in Dallas on September 27 and was resigning myself to the fact I wouldn’t be able to hear the record until I picked up a copy at the gig. All of a sudden, the promo appears in my mailbox. Hail to the Gods of Heavy Metal for bestowing this gift upon me!!
From the strafing run of guitars that open fire on everything in sight with “Poltergeist” I knew this was gonna be one hell of a ride, and I wasn’t mistaken. The music could stand up to anything their contemporaries were putting out back in the 80’s and it’s actually much heavier than some of those bands’ heralded releases if we’re being honest. The late Mike Scaccia sets his fret board ablaze on this and just about every other song, drummer Harden Harrison and bassist Casey Orr lay down a thunderous groove and singer Bruce Corbitt is a fire-breathing dragon from start to finish.
“Rain of Ruin” keeps the aggression-meter in the red, the band hell bent on destruction. Again, I cannot say enough about the guitar on this record. Mike manages to nail the perfect tone to capture exactly what these songs are supposed to say and it’s fucking outstanding, especially the ripping solo on this tune. In case I haven’t made my feelings about “Flesh for Flies” clear enough, IT RULES HARD!! If you don’t wanna break something listening to this quite frankly you’re dead inside. There is a decidedly old-school SLAYER vibe on “Blood Bath” which helped to make it another album standout. That’s not the only reason, mind you; it’s just got balls of steel. When I first listened to “The Infected” I thought for sure it was an instrumental, which is fine because the song is a kickass jam. When Bruce comes in around the 1:30 mark it only adds to the mayhem.
“Ancient Horror” is one of those thrash songs whose chorus will stick in your head for days with its pummeling, staccato rhythm throughout. Speedy riffs run rampant on “Fragrance of Corpse” and “Curse of the Draugr”, two songs that are tailor-made for workout and/or running playlists. Jeezus, these guys don’t stop! The end of the record takes on more of a darker, sinister feel, with instrumental “Sacramentum Gladiatorum” which bleeds right into closer “Ludus Magnus” a mostly shouted-word affair about ancient gladiators in Rome.
Overall I can say that the members of RIGOR MORTIS have put together an album they should be proud of. It not only honors their fallen comrade, but also lets them go out with an ear-splitting bang. It’s really a shame though, because these guys clearly had a lot more killer thrash left in them. Slaves to the Grave will be self-released by the band on October 7, but if you go to the September 27 CD release show you can grab it ten days before the rest of the world. I know I’ll be there. And when you do get it, play it LOUD!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Flesh for Flies”, “Rain of Ruin”, “Ancient Horror”, Poltergeist”, “Blood Bath”