Home > Music > Mekong Delta – Mekong Delta (1987)

Mekong Delta – Mekong Delta (1987)

Move along, children. This is just another German thrash band. Wait, that’s a lie. This is not just another thrash band. While their friends Sodom and Kreator are out on the killing fields, biting off heads and such, Mekong Delta sacrificed pure blinding speed and aggression to play in odd time signatures and, well… employ lots of dissonant riffing. Later, they went progressive on Kaleidoscope (1992) and that ended up entailing further distance from the thrash sound.  But for now, we have some catchy anthemic thrash metal with some experimentation and interesting riffs.

Suffice it to say that this makes sense when you consider who was in the band at this point – full of members of the German speed/power metal scene of the time – Rage, Living Death, Helloween (not all those bands at the same time, but still). At the time, all the members used pseudonyms, and with further albums, Mekong Delta would switch out members for other ones. The band probably would’ve went on to be known as some sort of German power metal supergroup had the band’s leader and bassist Ralph Hubert not introduced a great degree of classical music into the band’s sound, and were it not for the pseudonyms.

So again, we have speed/thrash metal in odd time signatures and with plenty of dissonant riffs that really have nothing to do with the genre’s NWOBHM/hardcore roots. At times, they approach the style of the impending death metal explosion, but are arranged in a relatively orderly method, as opposed to death metal’s “riff salad” approach. The singer uses a primarily clean high pitched approach that isn’t particularly good at matching tones, but does end up providing counterpoint to the riffs.

So what we end up with is actually a rather weird album, but if you ask me, it’s a fine debut. The production is somewhat odd, especially in terms of guitar tone, but the mixing is surprisingly good – all the instruments are relatively audible – in most cases, this includes the bass. The real strength of this album is, again, in its riffwork and arrangements. Many of them are quite simple in comparison to what would show up on later works, but they’re still good riffs. Outside of one song being breakneck speed (Nightmare Patrol), most of the songs are moderately fast. There’s two slower, doomy tracks – Hero’s Grief and Black Sabbath (the latter being a sendup of the aforementioned band that uses the names of the band’s songs as lyrics), and the band’s first cover, “The Hut of Baba Yaga” from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures from an Exhibition” – essentially replicating the arrangement on “metal” instruments.

It’s definitely a far cry from the band’s future, but it’s a damn fine piece of tech-thrash and should be listened to. It seems chaotic, but it’s very orderly. Think about that, it’s basically one of the defining qualities of the band.

Highlights – “The Cure”, “Kill the Enemy”, “Nightmare Patrol”

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