Rigor Mortis (Capitol) 1988
1. Welcome to Your Funeral [instrumental] (3:30)
2. Demons (4:04)
3. Bodily Dismemberment (5:18)
4. Condemned to Hell (3:40)
5. Wizard of Gore (3:56)
6. Shroud of Gloom (2:42)
7. Die in Pain (3:56)
8. Vampire (5:00)
9. Re-Animator (3:23)
10. Slow Death (5:33)
11 Foaming at the Mouth (03:46)
12 Grudge F*ck (1:49)
13 Spivey (2:50)
Rigor Mortis are a Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas based thrash meta band formed in the mid-80's and "Rigor Mortis" is their debut release. I remember back in 1989 walking into a record store looking for something new and when flipping through the stacks of records came across this album. The cover art caught my attention, the sticker on the front said it was thrash. That was all I needed to buy this record. At that time thrash for me was bands like Testament, Anthrax, Death Angel and Forbidden. When I first put this album onto the turntable I was thrown for a loop. Rather than being the refined, ultra-technical thrash metal I was listening to at the time, Rigor Mortis are more raw and primitive, not unlike some of the more extreme NWOBHM bands such as Venom and Raven. They also have more of a punk ethic than those other bands I mentioned.
The album as a whole features fast and furious riffing. The albums lead off track is a three and a half minute thrash metal instrumental featuring some manic axe work. The lead guitar work throughout is worth noting as rarely is there ever an rhythm guitar under the leads. The second track "Demons" is yet another fast, manic thrasher and the first to feature vocals. Bruce Corbitt style is a bit different from the norm. Thrash metal in 1988 either features the high, clean melodic vocalist or the more gruff, angry grunter. Corbitt's style leans more towards the gruff end but with a more hoarse, hardcore/punk approach. As might be suggested by the song titles, the lyrics were definitely of the horror and gore themes and inspired by gore movies. Of course this would become fairly the norm for the death metal genre but in 1988 this was fairly uncommon for thrash bands who were generally focusing on social, religious (anti-religous) and political ideas.
Overall Rigor Mortis' debut is an unrefined, speed-infused heavy metal album that was a pre-cursor to death metal and grindcore.
Rigor Mortis - Freaks (Metal Blade) 1989
1. Freaks (4:58)
2. Cattle Mutilation (3:00)
3. The Hunted (4:59)
4. Six Feet Under / Worms Of The Earth (9:49)
5. Chained In The Attic (3:09)
Freaks is five fast and furious tracks delivered with the same punk-frenzy as the band's debut album. All five tracks are manically driven by a constant thrash metal polka drum beat and Mike Scaccia's frantic guitar playing. The vocal position here has switched from Bruce Corbitt to Doyle Bright who spits and spews his venom as well as any thrasher. He's not completely different from Corbitt but at times also reminds me of Ron Rinehart of Dark Angel/Oil fame. "Freaks" is definitely of the more extreme variety of thrash metal, even coming close to the early death metal sound, though never completely planting a foot on that side of the fence. What is great about this album is the insane guitar playing of Scaccia. His riffs would leave most guitarists with their jaw on the floor, unable to replicate the fiery fret-work Mike unleashes. What is unfortunate about this album is that the songs are fairly unmemorable. It seems that at least for this EP, Scaccia and crew were all about speed for speed sake which I am sure would whip a thrash metal crowd into a moshing frenzy.
Rigor Mortis - Rigor Mortis Vs. The Earth (Metal Mind) 1991
1. Dying In My Sleep [instrumental] (2:44)
2. Mummified (4:46)
3. Throwback (3:53)
4. Contagious Contamination (3:10)
5. The Rack (6:25)
6. Psycho Therapy (2:23)
7. City In Fear(2:34)
8. Asphyxia (3:33)
9. Dead Fish (3:44)
10. Sog (6:05)
11. Speedwhore (3:35)
12. Afterbirth Of A Midget (S.Y.G.D.P.)(3:04)
"Rigor Mortis Vs. The Earth" is the band's second full length album, after the "Freaks" EP which was released to introduce vocalist Doyle Bright to the metal world. The band's punk influences still coming through their vicious thrash metal attack. Songs like the riff-tactic, speed metal "Mummified", the hardcore-tinged thrash of "City of Fear", the full-throttle assault of "Asphyxia" and the mid-tempo groove of "SOG" shows that the band aren't just a one trick pony. I've read many reviews over the year that all have criticized the band's cover of The Ramones "Psycho Therapy", but I tend to like it. I see no problem with the band paying homage to one of their musical heroes. The vocals are split up a bit on this album with Doyle getting the lions share of tracks but bassist Casey Orr getting a bit more mic time. Frankly I think they should have let Doyle do all the vocals as the tracks he sings on tend to be the better ones. Unlike the debut, which was horribly produced, "Vs the World" has a much tighter recording, which is ironic since the overall performance seems looser and delivered with a punk fury. Overall "Rigor Mortis vs. The Earth" is a good thrash album. It's would never sit at the top of the thrash metal heap, but then not every album has to. It's a great album for lifting weights at the gym, doing cardiovascular workouts or running people over with a giant demon possessed tank.
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