MORDAX, Violence Fraud Treachery (2012, Ultimhate)
Psyched that an hourglass is served up with our skull here, as that enduring album cover motif is another favorite of both Friars. This still life shows three items sitting politely on a limestone slab, minding their own business. Which one represents violence? Which one fraud? Which one treachery? There seems to be no connection whatsoever between album title and cover art. But then Time Death Flower Pen doesn’t sound very bad-ass.
One of the most useless metal subgenres is a very specific one: Danish death/thrash. Most of these bands sound like Carnal Forge, who are themselves a few tiers down from the Haunted, who are themselves rather overrated. The Danish death/thrash scene is littered with bands that are copies of copies of copies… image and impact fade further with each generation removed from the root. And while Mordax are from Denmark, and certainly merge death and thrash, theirs is a slightly more interesting approach to the style. Of note is the abundance of slower tempos, edging toward doom but really having more of a Coroner thing happening, many of these riffs sounding like they could have been on some lost album between Mental Vortex and Grin. And the vocalist isn’t your typical barker, having a kind of strained, seething Ihsahn-esque edge to his gruff snarl. “Monarch of All” starts out in this mid- to slow-tempo mold, and it sounds promising at first but never goes anywhere. The tightness of “Trademark Strangulation” is on the Coroner level too, although it clangs and bands itself into redundancy too quickly; it suffers from veering into the usual boring Danish death/thrash mold. Something like “Acts of Aggression” edges toward Meshuggah territory, and quasi-progressive instrumental “Contrapasso,” the longest song on the album, shows there’s more to Mordax than your typical band of this ilk. Unfortunately there are too many moments where this band toes the line of your average death/thrash ho-hum hoedown. You can sorta see why Dan Swano mixed and endorsed this band, because there’s serious potential for growth here — the musicianship is excellent, and there are some fairly good ideas throughout — but in a time when most young bands play it totally safe and fail to evolve in any significant way, my hopes aren’t very high.
— Friar Wagner