In case you’re late to the party, here’s a news flash: Australia has one of the strongest extreme metal scenes anywhere in the world right now. It’s so good, in fact, that Thy Art is Murder calling the Land Down Under home is only a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent record, as opposed to the complete catastrofuck it would be in a lot of other scenes. It’s not just one genre, either. Black, death, stoner, thrash – all present and accounted for.
As our loyal Vault Hunters are no doubt aware, I’m partial to black metal, and Australia has no shortage of stellar black metal bands. But I can also get down with some of the black/thrash coming out of there, especially when the riffs hit that sweet spot between ‘evil as fuck’ and ‘fucking sick.’ Or to put it another way, the exact place that Mongrel’s Cross calls home.
It’s been a minute since we last heard from the Brisbane-based brutalizers. Almost exactly six years’ worth of them, in fact. It’s been all quiet on the Mongrel’s Cross front since the release of The Sins of Aquarius back in 2012. I have no idea what they were up to in the interim, but the now-duo shows absolutely no signs of rust on their long-awaited sophomore album Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court. Honestly, they could just as easily have ‘borrowed’ the title of AC/DC’s first live album and called it If You Want Riffs You’ve Got ‘Em, because this record is overflowing with them. They’re not the standard sort of black/thrash riffs, either – for one thing, they’re far more memorable than the norm, and a hell of a lot more nuanced than the ‘push the needle as far into the red as possible’ approach a lot of bands take.
For example, consider the opening riff to “From Transylvania to Tunbridge Wells,” which we’re fortunate enough to be premiering here today at the Vault. There’s more happening in the ten seconds or so that it takes for them to cycle through it one time than some bands have happening in entire songs. I’d try to break it down, but I’m guessing you’d much rather just experience it for yourselves. Check it out below, and then head over to Hell’s Headbangers Records (preorder here) to snag a copy of Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court ahead of its August 3 release date.