CD Review: Rigor Mortis – Slaves to the Grave

CD Review: Rigor Mortis – Slaves to the Grave
Rigor Mortis Records
All Access Rating: A-

Rigor Mortis - Slaves to the Grave 2014
No Mike Scaccia means no more Rigor Mortis. The thrash/speed metal tyrants have apparently refused to soldier on without him.

Felled by a heart attack onstage at a homecoming show for Rigor Mortis in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2012, the guitarist was the maggot-filled heart and worm-eaten soul of a band that laid waste to the late 1980s extreme metal underground.

Without their breakneck tempos, frenzied beats, insanely furious riffage, and putrid, R-rated lyrical content inspired by horror and gore films, and a fascination with serial killers, there would be no Toxic Holocaust, no Goatwhore even. Who'd want to live in a world like that?

Only days before Scaccia, also known for his work with industrial-metal giants Ministry, as well as a slew of other Al Jourgensen-related projects, shuffled off this mortal coil, however, he finished his guitar parts for what would become his and the band's swan song, Slaves to the Grave, a record – their first in the 23 years since the punk/metal manifesto Rigor Mortis Vs. The Earth ... – the reunited Rigor Mortis was working on prior to his untimely demise.

No record labels wanted to touch it. Needing assistance with funding to release it themselves, Rigor Mortis raised money through an IndieGoGo campaign, and with a little help from some friends in the industry, this burning slab of fierce, raging death metal is finally seeing the light of day. And what a fiery, no-holds-barred send-off it is, "Flesh for Flies" taking the prize for "biggest wall of buzzing guitar noise ever conceived" by these remorseless attack dogs.

Resting only briefly for an unexpectedly melodic and tasteful intro to "Rain of Ruin," before trashing the place with a barrage of scabrous drums, bombing guitars and war-torn imagery, the original lineup of Scaccia, bassist Casey Orr, barking vocalist Bruce Corbitt and drummer Harden Harrison brutally stomps all over a gruesome "Ancient Horror" and tears through the blistering "Poltergeist" and an equally venomous "Fragrance of Corpse" like a cyclone.

And while the staggering hyper speed with which they play still makes jaws drop to the floor, as it does in "Curse of the Draugr," Rigor Mortis has other tricks up their tattered, blood-spattered sleeves, with Scaccia letting nervous six-string manipulation skitter like frightened, amphetamine-fed spiders or unpacking the unusual, repetitive muted stutter and quickened chug of the instant-classic "Blood Bath" and its whiplash change of pace. This may well be Scaccia's finest hour, and in turn, the rest of Rigor Mortis have fully realized their disturbingly warped vision of humanity and sonic brutality.
– Peter Lindblad

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