RIGOR MORTIS, Rigor Mortis (1988, Capitol)
The smashed out eyes make this a particularly distinctive skull, and that feature is also, amazingly, unique in the Skullection. Here at Skull HQ, we’ve seen skulls that have suffered all kinds of abuse, but this is the first and only example of occular disembonement. But while that negative space is what draws the eye (so to speak), it’s the maniacal grin that really seals the deal. This skull (who doesn’t seem to have a name, although I spent a fair amount of time looking) just doesn’t give a fuck that he’s got no distinct eye sockets, and he’s even proud to hover there with the mace that did it. The axe and bone are bonus accoutrements that nevertheless can’t compete with this skull’s luxurious mane. “I’m so fucking bad, they put me in the logo, too. Twice.” While a nice, real skull, staged and photographed, might have made a better 300th skull, those are shockingly hard to come by, and as illustrated BDSes go, this Rigor Mortis cover is about as awesome as they come.
A shocking number of thrash bands managed to land major label deals between 87 and 90, but few were as mediocre as Rigor Mortis. Meliah Rage comes close, maybe, and even they had a couple truly excellent songs. Rigor Mortis were weirdly lightweight, lacking the depth and punch of a Testament, while being sillier even than Exodus at their goofiest. Their riffing and songwriting, as with most Texas thrash bands, were thoroughly pedestrian for the times, and the anemic production didn’t do them any favors. Finally, they were saddled with a vocalist who lacked any unique character and whose lyrics were stupid (and not funny, which is the one possible salvation of stupid lyrics). They were far from the worst thrash band on the scene in 1987, but there were probably scores of bands more deserving of the opportunity afforded Rigor Mortis (who of course completely squandered it and were dropped in a couple years). Nevertheless, they’re a band that’s developed something of a cult reputation, perhaps due to the rarity of the album on compact disc. Their subsequent EP and full length can be had fairly readily, but the debut on Capitol commands a rather stupid price. You could spend $100 for this middling effort, or you could save yourself at least twenty bucks and pick up the infinitely superior Wargasm debut, which is similar to Rigor Mortis in many ways but always much, much better.
— Friar Johnsen