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Mental Devastation - The Delusional Mystery of the Self (Part 1)

Mental Devastation
The Delusional Mystery Of The Self (Part 1)
by Mike Peacock at 15 March 2022, 12:32 PM

What better way to close out an absolutely chaotic mind-fuck of a year than with an all-out in your face thrash assault? That was no doubt the mindset of Chile’s MENTAL DEVASTATION when they launched their sophomore album “The Delusional Mystery of the Self (Part 1)” on December 31, 2021, via Sweden’s Blood Harvest Records.  And in my opinion, it was the perfect punctuation mark on one final statement of the absurdity of life and the questioning of all that we know to be real.

Formed in 2009 in Valparaíso, Chile, MENTAL DEVASTATION unleashed their unapologetically Bay-Area inspired thrash attack upon the masses in 2013 with their debut album “Red Skies.” And while it was a valiant effort that garnered some underground traction, it fell victim to poor distribution and a lack of label and touring support and hence withered away in the bowels of South American metal limbo. Eight years later, the band have taken their vintage thrash roots and reemerged with a vengeance, bringing with them an air of progression and maturity while still holding tight to the energy and classic sounds that still inspire them.

To say that this band is a throwback is a huge understatement. At no point do these Chilean thrash masters shy away from their roots. Even their logo is a direct nod to the late 80’s.  From the frantic and barely contained energy of the guitars to the powerful and tortured vocals, we as listeners are subjected to a high energy assault that was clearly put into a time capsule in 1988 and pulled out in 2021 just in time to close out the year with style. Dual-wielding vocalist/bassist Alejandro Lagos has a voice that reminds me of Russ Anderson (FORBIDDEN) and Sean Killian (VIO-LENCE) with a touch of Mike Munro (MELIAH RAGE,) while his bass playing seems to channel his inner SADUS-era Steve DiGiorgio. Songs like “Ascension” and “Vulcanic Eruption” (yes, that’s “Vulcanic”) perfectly illustrate both his vocal control and killer fretless bass skills. And like Anderson and Killian, people will either love or hate Lagos’s vocals. I find his voice to be the perfect blend of aggressive delivery and controlled chaos that is not quite screaming and yet not quite singing. Adding to that the often-syncopated rhythms and quickly changing time signatures (a la early ATHEIST and CYNIC) on tracks like “The Abyss” and “Labyrinths” solidify Lagos as a very talented and effective front man.

There is a noticeable progression in the level of guitar playing on this album versus that displayed on “Red Skies.” The raw aggression and speed are still there, but this album shows a diversity not only in the phrasing and technicality, but also in its overall dynamic and thematic experimentation. From the opening classical acoustic lines of “Genesis,” the caffeine-laden riffing and melodic lead work on the face-melting instrumental “Perpetual Dualities,” and the subdued Flamenco work on “Dans L’Absurde,” guitarists Felipe Espinoza and Matías Morales pull off an aggressive, melodic, and technical riff-o-rama that may not add up to 246 but at times definitely gets into DARK ANGEL territory. Drummer Nicolas Pastene shows a high degree of musicianship, picking the perfect times to throw down on some lightning-fast double bass or pull it back with some powerful fills and epic cymbal work.

Closing out “Delusional…” is the ten-minute monster of a track “Reflections Over the Veils of Death.” This song serves to recap the thematic and lyrical content of the album, which hints at a concept but stops just short of acknowledging it. MENTAL DEVASTATION crammed every trick they know into this track, from more Flamenco-inspired tastiness to absolute breakneck speed and melodic scale runs. Honestly, it’s a little much. This song changes directions so many times I started to wonder if it was the same song I started with. This song is the thrash equivalent of a promo reel: here’s my portfolio of everything I’ve ever learned and all of my accomplishments to date. It’s great, but I did find myself waiting for it to end.

The production at times does get a little muddy, and with so much going on I feel that the album does suffer from the loss of some sonic quality. It’s by no means bad, and fans of a more “real” sound will definitely appreciate it. But it is my one true criticism, albeit one that did not prevent me from thoroughly enjoying this album. To be honest, the more I listened to it the more I appreciated the presentation.

This album checks all of the necessary boxes for true thrash afficionados. Galloping guitars with harmony, melody, and a heavy dose of shreddery? Check. Blistering speed and intense vocals? Double Check. Reverb-heavy backup vocal shouts? Triple check. Tasty bass lines, frantic soloing, dark lyrics, and epic drumming. Check, check, check, check! With an album name like “The Delusional Mystery of the Self (Part 1)” I knew I was in for an epic journey, and I’m excited to see what comes in part 2. I only hope we don’t have to wait 8 more years to hear it. Fans of FORBIDDEN, VIO-LENCE, SADUS, DARK ANGEL, CORONER, ATHEIST, OVERKILL, and DEVASTATION should definitely check this one out.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.  Genesis
2. Ascension
3. Conquerors
4. Labyrinths
5. The Abyss
6. Vulcanic Eruption
7. Perpetual Dualities
8. Time Echoes
9. Dans L’Absurde
10. Reflections Over the Veils of Death
Lineup:
Alejandro Lagos – Vocals/Bass
Felipe Espinoza - Guitars
Matías Morales – Guitars
Nicolas Pastene – Drums
Record Label: Blood Harvest Records
     


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