Mere Mortal, Tartarus (Quality Control HQ, 2018)

The year is 1985-ish. You keep seeing this one band name pop up over and over. Maybe it was on a flyer you got at L’amour at an Overkill show, or it could’ve been on the thanks list on the Blood Feast demo … or was Blacky from Voivod wearing their shirt when you saw them open for Celtic Frost? Either way you obsess over this band. You picture a bunch of dudes in a musty wood paneled basement in Old Bridge, NJ. Empty beer cans and crushed cigarette packs all over the place. Venom, Slayer, Metallica, and Motörhead posters on the walls. Flying V and BC Rich Guitars and a drum kit with 2 bass drums, 4 rack toms, and more cymbals than are reasonable.

The leader of this gang holds the mic in a cutoff denim vest with a painting on the back and covered with pins and patches of all the sickest bands… decades before the term "battle vest" was coined. You finally get a copy of their tape, and they’re everything you wished they would be. That, my friends, is how Mere Mortal’s debut 12”, Tartarus, made me feel. Except it’s 2018, and these fine people are from the UK and have been in some of the best hardcore/punk bands that scene has to offer: The Flex, DiE, Perspex Flesh, Big Cheese, Violent Reaction, Arms Race, etc.

The packaging is perfect and simplistic: hand-drawn demonic cover, band photos, track list, lyrics, and liner notes. The vinyl is a beautiful translucent ice blue (100 with OBI strip). This record rips through 5 songs of blazing thrash metal. The music is vicious and well played and vocalist Liam Fox conjures up an assault akin to Peter Steele on the first Carnivore LP mixed with Napalm Death's Barney Greenway. Guitarists Megan Brooks and Joe Sam Williams' dual attack compliment each other’s playing perfectly. The rhythm section held down by bassist Tom Pimlott and drummer Adam Rogers is tight as hell and solid as fuck.  

The songs are well structured and keep the listener’s attention throughout. They are just long enough, and they never overstay their welcome. These 5 songs come to a close in just over 16 minutes, and it leaves the listener hungry for more. I hope Mere Mortal take this further since I would love an LP from this band (and a US tour).

I'll give this one 5 out of 5 inverted pentagrams!


The 12" vinyl version of Tartarus is out now via Quality Control HQ, and if you prefer digital, grab it on Bandcamp.

Tagged: mere mortal