Mark Morton – Anesthetic
Released: March 1st, 2019
Mark Morton // Lead Guitar
Vocalists listed below in review (too many to mention)
Roy Mayorga (STONE SOUR), David Ellefson (MEGADETH), Ray Luzier (KORN), Mike Inez (ALICE IN CHAINS), Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent (TRIVIUM), Jean-Paul Gaster (CLUTCH), Steve Gorman and Marc Paul (BLACK CROWES)
Mark Morton, the long-time guitarist for metal band, Lamb of God has embraced the little hiatus that band is currently enjoying and has finally got around to recording a broad range of work for his debut solo album entitled Anesthetic. As Slash did all those years ago prior to creating his Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators band, Morton has collected a similar odd bunch of artists, some familiar, some not so familiar to construct an album of intrigue. It’s an album, as a consequence of its conglomerate of musicians that feels more like a various artist’s compilation than a solo record. In fact, it sounds more like a Lamb of God album with different vocalists in its majority. Saying that there are some gems to be found on the 10 track offering, but we thought it best to break down this album track by track.
- ‘Cross Off’ (featuring Chester Bennington)
The late Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) features on the lead track, immediately setting the tone by screaming “Goodbye“, an eerie reminder of such a sad loss of a great talent. It’s a track that sees Chester in his most metal form, perhaps ever. Guttural screams and melody amongst a familiar sounding Lamb of God riff. Great to hear Chester singing anything heavy so nothing not to like about this track, the last recorded track from Chester and a fitting, sad farewell.
- ‘Sworn Apart’ (featuring Jacoby Shaddix)
Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix takes over the mike for track two, a similar heavy riff, again very LOG-like however Shaddix carries the melodic chorus unlike anything Randy Blythe (LOG frontman) could of. A killer solo, albeit a small one lets Morton shine, but I can’t help but think that this album is more riffs than letting rip on big solos. C’mon Mark, just let rip!
- ‘Axis’ (featuring Mark Lanegan)
Mark Lanegan is up next for vocals, and the throaty, bluesy, dare we say, ballsy vocals of Lanegan cannot help but carry the track into a storytelling bluesy deep south sound, which leads Morton to kick off a killer blues drenched solo. The track ultimately rocks out to a heavier surge as it progresses, with a backing band led by Morton simply, “going off”. A great track, Lanegan is such a great choice on this album, something Morton should steer towards more so than replicating his LOG musical persona.
- ‘The Never’ (featuring Chuck Billy and Jake Oni)
The thrash track of the album and who better to lead the vocals than Testament’s, Chuck Billy. Again a very LOG sounding riff featuring an awesome solo by Morton with a heap of wah pedal. Unfortunately, as much as Billy is a great thrash vocalist not even Jake Oni helps the track from the thought that, Randy would have done it better.
- ‘Save Defiance’ (featuring Myles Kennedy)
The dulcet rock tones of Myles Kennedy leads the vocals on the track, ‘Save Defiance’, immediately drawing comparisons to Kennedy’s band, Alter Bridge. It has a similar vibe, an anthem rock sound, and it features one of the best rock vocals of all time, so no complaints and it’s not LOG sounding, so big tick. Perhaps only missing a longer solo from Morton to really stamp his mark on the track.
- ‘Blur’ (featuring Mark Morales)
Mark Morales takes the vocals on next track, ‘Blur’, with its bluesy introduction that eventually leads into a heavy backing, an almost Alice in Chains vibe. Morton’s solo a highlight with plenty of licks. That’s more like it!
- ‘Back from the Dead’ (featuring Josh Todd)
An urgent hard rock number, very Buckcherry sounding. The bridge defers into a killer Morton solo, probably the best on the album and surprisingly very Slash sounding which is funny as Morton was to of had Slash play the solo for this track, however Todd and Morton agreed after hearing Morton’s solo, that it couldn’t be replaced. Good choice.
- ‘Reveal’ (featuring Naeemah Maddox)
The most bizarre track on the album. An almost, ‘one of these things is not like the other’ moment. Naeemah Maddox lends her beautiful vocal to this track, a chilled, laid back almost jazzy rock vibe. It features a Morton solo, once again, but nothing over the top, however despite the track eventually heading into a rockier vibe, I’m not sure it works. Most LOG fans will not like this track at all and neither did I. It will divide fans.
- ‘Imaginary Days’
Mark Morton actually takes the vocal reigns on this track as it plods along. It doesn’t reach any particular highs. Morton’s vocals are decent enough but other than that it sounds more like a filler track or a Side B you’d never want to hear again. Pass.
- ‘The Truth is Dead’ (featuring Randy Blythe and Alissa White-Gluz)
The final track features Lamb of God vocalist, Randy Blythe and despite the tranquil intro by Alissa White-Gluz and her contrasting style in and out of the rest of the track it is in essence a Lamb of God track.
Mark Morton’s solo debut is promising for the most part. On the one hand he has nabbed some great artists to assist him get this album a release, however I think he has missed the mark on half the tracks by playing along with the Lamb of God playbook too often. When he does let loose and craft something unique to what his fans normally crave he has succeeded, bar the Naeemah Maddox track, which in my opinion was a mess. The bluesy numbers, ‘Blur’ and ‘Axis’ are highlights and the slightly less heavy metal, more melodic hard rock tracks were edgy and well received. One thing I hope Morton does if there is to be a sequel is be more selfish or indulgent with his skills and by that I mean, lengthier solos. It’s a Mark Morton album he should indulge his craft more, but saying that it’s well worth the listen.
Mark Morton – Anesthetic tracklisting
1. “Cross Off” (feat. Chester Bennington)
2. “Sworn Apart” (feat. Jacoby Shaddix)
3. “Axis” (feat. Mark Lanegan)
4. “The Never” (feat. Chuck Billy + Jake Oni)
5. “Save Defiance” (feat. Myles Kennedy)
6. “Blur” (feat. Mark Morales)
7. “Back From The Dead” (feat. Josh Todd)
8. “Reveal” (feat. Naeemah Maddox)
9. “Imaginary Days”
10. “Truth Is Dead” (feat. Randy Blythe + Alissa White-Gluz)