Mark Morton – Anesthetic
Label: Spinefarm Records
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Opening the gates into the multi-talented and incredible mind, Guitar God, Mark Morton (Lamb of God) presents his ground-breaking solo debut, Anesthetic. If you’re familiar with Lamb of God, you know who Mark is and what he brings to the table as a dynamic, break-the-mold, guitarist. I knew he was working on some solo material for some time now and after hearing a couple snippets of “Cross Off” and “The Truth Is Dead”. I’ve been patiently waiting like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons, fiddling with his fingers saying “Excellent!”, buying time to hear what else Mark had up his sleeve. Finally, my patience has been rewards, and here’s my take on his solo offering, track by track.
“Cross Off” – Featuring the late, Chester Bennington (Linkin Park)
The first second you hear Mark’s signature Jackson guitar beginning with frenzied distorted riff then Chester comes in with his mighty scream, “Goodbye” you know it’s about to go down. I found myself holding on to every word and riff of this song because I didn’t want It to end. A classic voice of our generation, Chester gives us his deep, growly screams to high and low clean vocals. You feel every word Chester is saying. I love the guitar build-up in the chorus and Chester’s high/low vocals with a tasty drum pattern make for a hell of a catchy sing along. I lost my lunch when you get towards the end of the song where Mark is climbing through a series of solos and you hear one final “Goodbye” scream from Chester. It then moves into a rap breakdown, yes, rap and I think it works brilliantly in this song. I was headbanging throwing horns up, ready to get in the pit. This song is a beautiful gift to all of us from Mark and Chester. You are missed and loved Chester, RIP.
“Sworn Apart” – Featuring Jacoby Shaddox (Papa Roach)
Combinations of chunky riffs to slower siren like chords, I really love the transitions of guitar tones and sequences here. Jacoby has a way of conviction that comes from his voice, every word he is saying, you feel the passion exuding from him, you feel it surge through your body too. This song is a pure adrenaline rush.
“Axis” – Featuring Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees)
This is where you will hear Morton’s blue’s influence. One of my favorite songs on the album. I just love the way the gritty baritone voice of Lanegan flows with the smooth curviness of the guitar melodies. Reminds me of being in the mountains, sitting around the fire with acoustic guitars. Grab your friends and your good whiskey when listening to this. It starts out with acoustic sound and goes from clean to strong distortions. Beautifully written lyrics I related to. That solo at 2:40 is hot. This song made me realize I want more of these two making music together in the future.
“The Never” – Featuring Chuck Billy (Testament) and Jake Oni (ONI)
Straight up balls to walls from the get go. It’s trashy, dirty, technical, fist-pumping, heart-pounding and a call to get yo ass into the pit and go ape shit. Did you catch that tasty little crash symbol and tom at 2:26? Something so small makes huge impacts that just set the tone to the rest of the song. (Sorry, not sorry, it’s the drummer mind in me lol)
“Save Defiance” – Featuring Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge, Slash)
The guitar sequences in this song that go from clean to mean are fantastic. Myles’ voice is an immediately identifiable in today’s rock genre. Effortless tone, power, and richness, there’s really no limits to what Myles can do vocally. I thought Myles voice fit perfectly for these lyrics and the sound and message that Mark was trying to capture here. I could definitely get on board with these two making more music together in the future.
“Blur” – Featuring Mark Morales (Sons of Texas) and Mike Inez (Alice In Chains)
This song embodies and showcases Mark’s talents as a guitarist and writer. It’s so cool to hear one of your favorite guitarists, ever, escaping outside the boundaries of metal into the heartbeat of that red dirt Texas rock genre. Not everyone has the ability to push outside the comfort zone of what they know into a world of the unknown and make it work, but Mark can!!
“Back From The Dead” – Featuring Josh Todd (Buckcherry)
It’s going to be a hell of a party if Josh Todd is there on vox. This song made me want to get on a Harley and go for a joyride. You don’t know where you’re going and you might not make it there alive, but it’ll make for a memorable trip. The solo at 2:45 had me bouncing around. This is a fun and catchy party tune for all playlists.
“Reveal” – Featuring Naeemah Z. Maddox. Jean-Paul Gaster (Clutch), Yanni Papadopoulis (Stinking Lizaveta) Chris Brooke (Lionize)
Wait, what did I just hear!? Are my ears having an orgasm right now? I think they are! This song is far beyond my expectations of what I thought Mark was capable of. Soulful, smooth, jazz style chords. I knew Mark had a passion for Blue’s/Jazz style playing, but this was the ultimate surprise. I’m not too familiar with Jazz, but I give this song a 10!! A fucking 10!! Well done, Mark and Naeemah!!
I knew Mark did background vocals/screams in Lamb of God but I had no clue Mark could sing!! This tune has some really great rock progression chords along with hollowing lyrics. I loved it!!
“The Truth Is Dead” – Featuring Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and Randy Blythe (Lamb of God)
This is the first single released for the record. I’ve had this song in my playlist since it dropped in December and I can’t get enough of it. I constantly find myself singing along. Here you have two of the most dynamic and power house throats in metal, two of the best in the business (in my opinion), these three together created a monster of a diddy. Do you ever get those “Ahh!!!” moments when listening to a song like I do? The one where you get goosebumps, warm and fuzzies all over and you feel like the music takes over your body and soul. Everything and everyone around you doesn’t matter, you’re in the ultimate zone where all you can do is just be in that moment, never wanting the tingling to leave your fingertips and toes. This song brought me several “Fuck Yeah!!” moments. Alissa, lady, you are a goddess!! Randy, you are the man. I really don’t think that I need to say anything about this song, the music speaks for itself. Mark absolutely SLAYS this song with his guitar.
Anesthetic is an absolute banger of an album, with a variety of riffs, power house vocalists, and creative and meaningful lyrics. Mark Morton has stepped out of his own shadow to showcase his many creative shades. Each listen through this record reveals new and different layers, and a diversity of fresh nuances emerge. The production by Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Trivium, System of a Down, Hatebreed) is stellar. It’s hard to imagine Morton putting together a better debut offering than Anesthetic, and it’s already whet the appetite for what he’ll do next.