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MORTILLERY - Shapeshifter cover
4.30 | 5 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2016

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Radiation Sickness (5:23)
2. Age Of Stone (4:56)
3. Bullet (4:10)
4. Mantis (4:11)
5. Black Friday (4:06)
6. Wendigo (5:20)
7. At The Gate (4:28)
8. Torture (4:27)
9. Shapeshifter (5:49)

Total Time 42:50

Bonus Tracks:

10. Patient Zero
11. Neckbreaker
12. Shine


- Cara McCutchen / Vocals
- Alex Gutierrez / Guitars
- Kent Quinlan / Guitars
- Miranda Wolfe / Bass
- Kevin Gaudet / Drums

About this release

Released by Napalm Records, May 27th, 2016.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition


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Mortillery’s second album, Origin Of Extinction, was my introduction to these Canadian thrash merchants. Thrash colliding with traditional metal riffs, while it still had plenty of drive there was an overall more measured approach and somehow lacked some of the energy of their debut (discovered retrospectively). It was an enjoyable and proficient if unexceptional piece of work. Three years later they’re back with Shapeshifter and all guns are blazing.

Shapeshifter is undoubtedly their best album to date. Not only have they picked up the pace and increased the energy quotient but they’ve also written their best collection of songs so far. This album is positively exploding! From opener Radiation Sickness the brain crushing riffs keep coming. The playing is more vital and the riffs are razor sharp yet still have room for melody – listen to At The Gates. Vocalist Cara McCutchen never lets up and is up there with the best thrash singers as she screams her way through the 9 captivating songs (11 if you have the limited edition). The standard of musicianship is impressive with some compelling guitar work and solo’s from Alex Gutierrez and Kent Quinlan. Equally good are the rhythm section of Miranda Wolfe and Kevin Gaudet.

I do tend to focus more on death metal these days so I may have missed out on some thrash gems but Shapeshifter is definitely one of the best thrash metal albums I’ve heard in recent times. Anyone who ever had an interest in the genre needs to check this out.
Time Signature
Age of metal...

Genre: thrash metal

I really liked Mortillery's debut album "Murder Death Kill", and their sophomore effort "Origin of Extinction" is also magnificent. So, does their third album "Shapeshifter" hold up?

The answer is: "Duh! Of course it does".

Like its predecessors, "Shapeshifter" is a lesson in how to do thrash metal right. Every track on the album exudes aggression while at the same time showcasing the musicianship of the band. Every song features strong riffage and, while not exactly overly technical, there are enough things going on to keep the listener interested. Compared to "Murder Death Kill", which I am more familiar with than "Origin of Extinction", this album features just a tiny tad more crossover elements. For instance, 'Age of Stone' is quite oriented towards hardcore, and there are also some quite punky passages in 'Radiation Sickness', and 'Bullet'. While the emphasis is on aggression ('Mantis' even features a couple of blastbeats) a couple of tracks are surprisingly melodic, such as 'At the Gates' and the title track.

Mortillery are very skilled songwriters, and the level of musicianship displayed on this album is impeccable. The performance is tight, and the guitar solos, while not flashy, are full of gusto. Cara McCutchen's insane vocals suit the music perfectly and are a major contributor to the aggressive feel that characterizes the album.

"Shapeshifter" is a brilliant thrash metal album which should appeal to anyone who likes solid old school thrash metal.
Canadian thrash metal act Mortillery will always be a band that I'm going to think of with a touch of nostalgia. Unexpectedly with their previous album Origin of Extinction (2013) they were the band who finally opened me up to the thrash metal genre. Their classic sounding thrash metal came with both a really aggressive modern twist as well a noticeable traditional metal side, and it proved an addictive album for me. I've listened to a fair bit more thrash since then and of course as often happens with such gateway albums I've come to realise that the previous album wasn't quite the groundbreaking release it seemed at the time (though still is on a personal level), though of course it's still a fun and praiseworthy thrash metal album. The group's follow-up Shapeshifter (2016) has been on my most anticipated list since it was announced, and with this one I think it's clear that Mortillery are really developing into a true force to be reckoned with.

Mortillery sound like they're on fire with this album. Largely gone is their classic metal edge. Instead they're pummelling their listeners with full-on blistering thrash/speed metal and honestly sound completely pissed off while they're doing it. Especially vocalist Cara McCutchen is screaming down that microphone with a furious vocal style that seems to just drip venom. It's familiar from the previous album but leaves much less room for her more melodic vocals this time. If someone who sounded that angry was coming my way I'd seriously think about turning around and legging it in the other direction! And that's exactly what makes Cara and the band's performance, which certainly keeps up with the vocals, so compelling on Shapeshifter. I sometimes struggle with counting thrash metal as an extreme metal genre, after all thrash also has the likes of Metallica and Megadeth who both have produced undeniable classics of the genre, but sound rather tame by extreme metal standards. Nothing here is going to leave any doubts about thrash being an extreme metal genre. Their sound still leaves plenty of room for melodic lead guitar playing though.

It may be undeniable though that in terms of riffs Origin of Extinction actually had more variety on offer compared to Shapeshifter's full speed ahead approach, but they're very different albums within the thrash metal spectrum. What it may lack in diversity it more than makes up for in raw passion, energy and aggression. Lyrically Mortillery seem to have matured as well; at the very least there's no track like the previous album's F.O.A.D. where it seemed that every other word was fuck. The songs here deal with topics common to metal and thrash in particular such as war (Radiation Sickness) but also folklore (Wendigo).

I have to say that Shapeshifter is the best Mortillery album to date. Their last album was fun but this one really slays. 2016 has been a good year for thrash so far with veterans Artillery providing an equally excellent album from the more melodic, power metal influenced side of thrash, which Shapeshifter proves a great counterweight too. In my review for Artillery's album I said it was the thrash album for others to beat for the year and for their brand of thrash it still is. For this kind of thrash metal though Shapeshifter is now the one for others to beat.

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