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Mark Morton - Anesthetic

Label: WPP/Spinefarm
Format: Download
Released: 2019
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9/10


Mark Morton’s day job is the guitarist for modern American Metal powerhouse, Lamb of God. “Anesthetic” is his first solo record. He’s declared that this is just a side project, and that LoG are still his primary focus - - but I dunno. . . . He’s accomplished something pretty excellent here. It would be a shame if this were just a one-off thing.

 

In addition to his history with Lamb of God, the album is overrun with prestigious guest stars, each of whom co-wrote the songs in which they’re featured. That creates a lot of baggage to unpack for any listener. You’ll need to set your preconceptions and expectations aside before proceeding with “Anesthetic” - - or even with this review. You should only read on to the next paragraph if you’ve truly opened you mind and you’re ready.
So you’re open-minded? Good. Let’s get to it.
The highest profile guest star on “Anesthetic” is Chester Bennington, formerly the ultra-famous lead singer for Linkin Park (and also the substitute singer for Stone Temple Pilots after Scott Weiland’s firing), before his suicide in 2017. “Cross Off,” track 1, is his, and while I know LP could get heavy, this might be a bit more than his fans are used to. Still, it’s actually a damn fine bit of modern Metal, and presumably one of the last recordings of Bennington’s life.
Here’s the full guest list, directly from the press release: Chester Bennington, Randy Blythe, Jacoby Shaddix, Myles Kennedy, Alissa White-Gluz, Mark Lanegan, Chuck Billy, Jake Oni, Josh Todd, Mark Morales, and Naeemah Maddox. Musically, Morton performs all guitars, with Roy Mayorga, David Ellefson, Ray Luzier, Paolo Gregoletto, Alex Bent, Mike Inez, Jean-Paul Gaster, Steve Gorman, Marc Ford, Yanni Papadopoulos, and Chris Brooks rounding out the band.
The diversity of sound across the whole thing may be the most impressive part. The song with Mark Lanegan sounds like a Mark Lanegan solo song, which makes for kind of a whiplash change to a pounding Thrash song with Chuck Billy (of Testament) up next, I can’t guess if Lamb of God fans will find it disappointing, but me personally, I find the journey through the different collaborations on the album to be a pretty interesting one. The three songs I’ve mentioned are pretty good, but it’s also nice to hear Alissa White-Gluz singing again on the final track, “Truth is Dead,” which is a vocal duet with Morton’s usual co-worker, Randy Blythe. Don’t worry, Arch Enemy fans, she gives a few growled vocals too. Two other songs I’ll call out: “Imaginary Days,” with Mark Morales from Sons of Texas kicks off with a killer traditional Metal riff. Number two would be “Reveal” with Naeemah Maddox, which sounds almost like a mellow 90s alt-VH1 tune, in the style of Luscious Jackson.
So yeah, this album is a pleasant surprise. It will be for you too, regardless of your feeling about the artists involved. Even Jacoby Shaddix.

 
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