To call France’s Mortal Scepter “the sum of its influences” may sound condescending, but, rest assured, when a band is able to blend late 80s thrash/speed with early 90s death as well as this quartet (yet still make what comes out sound fresh) it bears taking notice.
It takes a lot of balls to open any album— much less your debut—with an instrumental, yet that’s exactly what Mortal Scepter do. “Ray Of Despair” at 2:24, does double duty as an introduction, guitarists The Sorcerer and Lucas spending the last minute or so displaying quality leadwork, hopefully a harbinger of what’s to come.
Title track “Where Light Suffocates” finds Mille Petrozza-styled vocals spit over machine-gun riffs, howitzer rhythms recalling a slightly more primal demo-era Sadus, while “Murder The Dawn” is guaranteed to get those white tennis shoes and battle vests a’ whirling around circle pits.
Churning and malignant, “Perish With The Flesh” forcibly brings to mind when bands like Possessed and the aforementioned Sadus began to shift from the confines of thrash, subconsciously laying the foundation for what would become death metal. “Spear And Fang” adds a bit of chaos to the mix, but soon enough snaps back into the riff-heavy attack that seems to be the quartet’s stock and trade.
Finishing off with the unexpectedly lengthy “…The Scepter Reigns,” the band proves itself to be not only adept at attracting interest with what’s come before, but keeping it over the course of a 10-minute song. In all, Mortal Scepter will hopefully get the sort of attention they deserve with Where Light Suffocates, and I’m interested to hear what comes next.