1. Cross Off (feat. Chester Bennington)
2. Sworn Apart (feat. Jacoby Shaddix)
3. Axis (feat. Mark Lanegan)
4. The Never (feat. Chuck Billy and 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. The Truth Is Dead (feat. Randy Blythe and Alissa White-Gluz)
Reviewed by Sam Sciacca
This album shouldn’t really be called a solo album as much as it should be called a collaborative album, led by the man who really should need no introduction. If you for some reason do need an introduction though, let me indulge in some written showmanship.
“Ladies and gentlemen, making his solo debut, the lead guitarist and the incredible-30-year-blistering-riff provider for Lamb Of God, Marrrrrrkkkkk Mooorrrrrrtttoooooonnn!”
His work with Lamb of God is iconic among the their diehards, but new solo record Anaesthetic immediately threw everyone left field by not only just the sheer volume of musical guests and collaborators, but also the fact that this record isn’t the full-blown Lamb of God record people may have come to expect from someone you know, in Lamb of God. After all, this may be Mark Morton, but the appeal and intrigue of this album lies almost primarily around questions relatable to just how he was going to mesh with the star-studded cast. How would a Mark Morton ft Chester Bennington song sound? How would Morton go about producing a song with Myles Kennedy? Would Morton sing on this record?
The answers in order; It sounds fantastic. He would go about it by wanting to melt our ears in metal badassery with Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy singing how he does best. And yes, Morton himself sings a little bit. It’s pretty great.
The album starts with the aforementioned late Chester Bennington led Cross Off. It’s obviously the song that’s gained the most attention, and while not a bad song by any means, the guts of the album is still to come.
That guts officially arrive with the third track, Axis. Featuring Mark Lenegan of Screaming Trees fame, this starts upbeat but somehow sombre from a music perspective but doesn’t stay in that lane for long. It kind of feels like a song that should have replaced Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Wrestler’ at the end of the movie of the same name. It’s kinda Blues-y.
The genre-bending and exploration isn’t limited to just that track though. Towards the end of the record, singer-songwriter Naeemah Maddox provides beauty to Reveal with soulful vocals that won’t appease those wishing for only Lamb Of God heaviness as much as it shows off Morton’s musical diversity and open-mindedness.
While the majority of the album is pure fire, there are a few moments that do come across as filler. The second track, Sworn Apart, featuring Papa Roach’s Jacob Shaddix is a prototype, built for radio. It’s catchy, but it’s straight forward. And while most of the collaborations hit it straight out of the park, some songs don’t really mesh very well from a collaborative standpoint. A clear example to this writer of this is Josh Todd of Buckcherry fame’s vocal performance just not being ideal for the backing in which the rest of the track provides.
Truth is though, that really doesn’t matter too much in the end. This was overwhelmingly intriguing before even taking a first listen, and after many, it remains just as intriguing. Another few questions, based on intrigue alone, many had before this album’s release was “Would it be overblown? Would it try to do too many things at once? Will it be any good?”
Well, to answer that in order too; Not very much. It did try but it also did succeed. And, a resounding yes.