METAL MONDAY: Anesthetic by Mark Morton

The idea behind Mark Morton’s first solo album, Anesthetic, was to creat an album of songs that wouldn't fit in a Lamb of God release. In interviews, Morton has said that this album was written at a relaxed pace over a long period of time. It presents a body of work in a veritable variety of styles, though for the most part it does not stray too far from his work in the aforementioned Lamb of God.

Morton managed to get a plethora of vocalists – 11 total – and guest musicians to write and perform on the album and this is its most remarkable characteristic. The opener “Cross Off”, the album’s crown jewel, has become a hit not only for its feature of the late Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), but for his absolutely ripping performance. It’s delight for any Linkin Park fan as Bennington screams his way through this fast-paced metal banger. The explosive pace is kept up by the equally fast “Sworn Apart”, however a Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) feature is naturally less exciting. Nevertheless, Morton’s guitar flourishes and heavy blues solos embellishes the song, and prevents it from being power chord after power chord.

Many of the tracks feature a distinct 90’s alternative feel to them which comes as no surprise given some of the guests. “Axis” has this distinct country vibe to it which evolves into an all-out blues jam and perfectly compliments Mark Lanegan’s (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age) diction. Mike Inez (Alice in Chains) plays bass on five of these tracks and is highlighted with “Blur”, with Sons of Texas’ Mark Morales, who’s mid-paced riffing breaks down into a psychedelic Soundgarden-like passage. Morton even challenges himself to sing on the penultimate track “Imaginary Days”. A perfectly serviceable track, though it remains overshadowed by the soulful, organ-laden ballad “Reveal” with Naeemah Maddox, and the Randy Blythe and Alissa White-Gluz duet on “The Truth Is Dead”.

I must give credit where it’s due, the album remains incredibly cohesive despite the variety, which is arguably its strongest asset. The tracklist flows exceptionally well, knowing when to change the pace. The stylistic transitions are anything but jarring. Although, a handful tracks prevent the album from being consistently excellent. “The Never” with Chuck Billy (Testament) and Jake Oni (Oni) is a competent moshing song that works well live but falls flat on record. Additionally, “Save Defiance” with Myles Kennedy (Slash) and “Back from the Dead” with Josh Todd (Bush) are mainstream-sounding rockers with great choruses but are otherwise unremarkable.

Ultimately, Anesthetic is a fun collection of tracks that has a little something for everyone. Lamb of God fans will be surprised to hear something different from Mark Morton but will remain pleased with the familiar heavy cuts. For everyone else, it’s a competent modern metal record that’s worth your time!