Have you ever asked yourself: “I wonder what Clutch but with thrash metal influences thrown in would sound like?” If, like me, you’ve answered that question with “uuuhhhh hell fucking yes”, then Mentor‘s debut, full length release, Cults, Crypts and Corpses is exactly what you need. They make a kind of no holds barred, no frills, high octane punk/metal crossover monster that’s fueled equally by fast riffs and screeching vocals as it is by deep fuzz and husky singing. The end result is an album with depth but also with punch, going for a classic “high/low” combo that’s hard to resist. It might not be a hefty concept albums or an endlessly unwinding progressive affair but it’s loud, it’s pissed off, and it’s coming for you.
The opening track, “We Dig”, unsurprisingly reminds us of the mighty HARK; it opens with the same kind of melodic riff that characterized the by-now defunct Welsh band, blending melody and an unstoppable sense of rhythm. The vocals are throaty and filled with presence on the first verse, channeling the spirit of Neil Fallon but run through an industrial saw. As the higher, treble-y notes take over the singing, they sound more and more like something you’d hear on an old-school thrash metal album. But that’s only to lull you into a false sense of security; the main riff which soon unfolds over the track is as filled with bass as you’d like, a groove motivated beast that slouches along on belligerence and a belly full of churning drums.
Where you’d expect the album to capitalize on this oscillation, and continue to move between fast and slow riffs to create that familiar contrast, Cutls, Crypts and Corpses instead throws all caution to the wind and doubles down on the speed. Fourth track “Death Mask” is a good kind of miss, with notes, words, and snare hits flying all over the place. It flails, it careens, it extolls; it goes fucking hard and never lets up, just like the rest of this album. The feeling is of some sort of urgency which possesses Mentor and keeps them from staying still, constantly at the edge of their raw nerves. It has that urgency that all good thrash does but filled in with that all-prominent bass and thicker tones taken from stoner rock and metal.
Of course, Mentor haven’t entirely left the sludgier elements of their sound completely in the dirt; after most of the album has come and gone, blisteringly fast, “Up in the Bell Tower” and “Gather By the Grave” bring back some of the more melodic sounds. The latter in particular is a celebration of more drawn out, spaced out riffs that recall the HARK comparison to mind and, indeed, provides context for our reference to Clutch; the whole track feels like Mentor’s aggression mettled with a classic, larger-than-life rock feeling to it. The end of the track is all groove and Southern influenced tones, a mix that makes you hungry for more. That’s honestly the only criticism I can think of here: I wish Mentor made a longer album, with more space for those more melodic and groovy influences that crown the beginning and end of the album.
But that’s a pretty good weak point, yeah? An album that goes fast, hard, and well which I wish would spend even more time doing it’s thing. At the end of the day, if you like your aggression somehow both constantly at eleven and a bit more varied, look no further than Mentor’s release. It’s punk-y, it’s thrash-y, it’s stoner-y. It kicks you in the face and then once more in the gut while you’re down; it makes you pissed off and wanting a drink. Bottoms up.
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Cults, Crypts and Corpses sees release on November 16th via Pagan Records. Check the description of the YouTube clip above to grab it!