When it comes to creating some of the heaviest, most ferocious heavy metal, Australia is the place to be. Is it something in the water? Is it our harsh environment and deadly wildlife? Who knows, but Aussies certainly love a good mosh; and the country’s metal seems to have a truly unique (and probably venomous) bite to it. Brooding in Brisbane, Mongrel’s Cross have been forging their own crushingly heavy music influenced by death, thrash and black metal since 2009. In the last 6 years since the release of their debut album ‘The Sins of Aquarius’, the band had seemingly disappeared underground, apparently losing a band member along the way.
Currently returning as a still-devastating duo, Mongrel’s Cross are getting ready to release their latest album, ‘Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court’ through HELL’S HEADBANGERS on the 3rd of August this year. Despite their extended break and change of line-up, their extreme sound has suffered no loss. If anything, Mongrel’s Cross have grown musically, streamlining and maturing their sound and offering a more thoughtful and well-produced set of songs. ‘Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court’ feels like the band have found a new sense of power and a more calculated fury that shows through when comparing the new album to their debut album.
What stands out most on ‘Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court’ is the precision and structure in all aspects of the music. The opening track on the album, ‘King of the Beasts’ is a perfect reflection of this. The guitar work is phenomenal, boasting a pristine but still aggressive sound that showcases the truly unparalleled talent of this band. Mongrel’s Cross have bolstered their sound with melodic licks that surprisingly do very well to complement the insane thrash riffs that inevitably follow.
The first single off this album, Neurian Transformation is a personal favourite, bringing a darker vibe and an intense urgency that will be explosive in a live show. This song rumbles violently through riff after riff, topped by Grand Mongrel’s trademark guttural vocals that have showed no signs of age after 6 years of inactivity.
Their relentless drummer takes centre-stage on their latest single, The Thirteenth Card, delivering a performance bound to satisfy any extreme metal-head. Impeccable blast-beats and driving drum-patterns abound, lending an unhinged element of aggression to an already crushing thrash song.
Khara is another shining testament to their musical growth, opening the song with insane shredding before merging seamlessly into their trademark blackened thrash glory. Again they have taken the time and effort to meld some more melody and structure into the song and it has definitely payed off. Their ability to intermingle their chosen genres into a unique and intense song has only become more pronounced on this album.
Taking a detour from their somewhat melodic approach to deliver a healthy dose of fast and brutal thrash, From Transylvania to Tunbridge Wells has all bases covered. The guitar solo in this track is impressive and flawlessly executed, but is shadowed by the sheer quality of riffage being laid down by these incredible musicians.
Black metal fans will happily devour the grinding vocals and gritty guitars in Derkesthai – Initiation (To See Clearly). Painting a desolate and terrifying musical landscape, the boys in Mongrel Cross just refuse to let up in strength and hostility.
Closing the album on track 8 with Vessel of Shar On, Mongrel’s Cross finish strong with a dark and heavy blend of their best elements. Crushing blast beats, deep vocals and some of the most burgeoning riffs and solos of the entire album serve to send ‘Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court’ to its utter face-melting totality.
Overall, I am happy to report that Mongrel’s Cross have truly outdone themselves with ‘Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court’. They have successfully brought their sound up to a level where they are on their way to being on-par, if not even better than the international-level bands in their genre. Long-time fans who have waited patiently will be hard-pressed to find a song on the album they don’t like; Mongrel’s Cross have really gone the extra mile to carefully compose and construct some of the best metal I’ve heard in a while. I feel this album is deserving of a rating of 7 out of 10, as I thoroughly enjoyed the quality and execution of every track.
If you want to have a listen for yourself, ‘Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court’ will be available on CD, LP or digitally thanks to HELL’S HEADBANGERS on the 3rd of August via the band’s page HERE!