Released : 1990 Label : Aaarrg
Band Homepage : <a href='http://www.nightmarepatrol.net/mekongdelta/news.php' target='_blank'>Nightmare Patrol</a>
Line Up :
Vocals : Doug Lee ( ex-Siren)
Guitars : Uwe Baltrüsch
Bass : Ralf Hübert
Drums : Jörg Michael ( come on, you know who the guy is )
Mekong Delta is one of few bands who really went to stretch the boundaries of thrash, Watchtower being often mentioned as reference.
Both bands share a highly original take on the genre, but nothing makes them soundalikes. Watchtower drew a lot from jazz (be it in the song construction or the playing, especially in the bass department ), Mekong Delta’s approach is more thrash based and overall way heavier, with classical music providing a backbone. I found Watchtower's works a little chaotic, too many twists and turns disrupting the flow at times.
Dances of Death showcases about everything that makes MD unique, opening with a 19 minutes epic split in 8 parts, and from the go the band delivers.
You don’t get the opportunity to dodge the bullet, following a soft accoustic introduction, trademark Uwe Baltrüsch zigzag riffing, brilliantly driving bass work, and excellent drumming from Jörg Michael ( yeah, the one from Stratovarius, but this time both flexible and powerful ) start to swirl around your head in a frantic yet never chaotic fashion.
The segments flow seemlessly, faster parts explode like lava bursts and guitar leads fly you by like slingstones.
Those looking for a straightforward romp will be lost, the songwriting is intricate, sometimes unorthodox, but it mostly works.
These were, and still are, the shortest 19 minutes of my life.
It comes as no suprise, the following two tracks are a bit of a letdown, not to say they're bad but they just can’t keep up with the opening salvo.
Nonetheless ‘Transgressor’ has a nice guitar solo, sounding like something Kerry King might play … if he’d be able to. ‘True Believers’ shows how much Mekong Delta draws from Ralf Hubert’s bass playing, for it’s really the driving force here, almost pushing the guitar back to a supporting role.
The record closes with ‘Night on a Bare Mountain’, which might be familiar to some of you, being the last track from the original ‘Fantasia’ Walt Disney cartoon.
I won’t try to judge the quality of the music, as I’m certainly no expert of classical music. All I can say is that they stay quite close to the original, only adding a thrashy color and that’s quite enough to make it excellent.
Though later works may lack a little intensity, you can't go wrong when picking a MD release, all of them are fine pieces of thrash. Some might consider it too hectic or demanding, but if you dig Watchtower, Coroner or even Voivod, don’t miss them.