Mark Morton – “Anesthetic” (WPP Records / Spinefarm Records)
The solo debut of Lamb Of God guitarist Mark Morton, “Anesthetic” has long been in the back of his mind besides his primary love, along with a desire to showcase his wider talents as a songwriter and lyricist. Clearly inspired by a diverse range of styles for which this release serves as a creative outlet, Morton hasn’t been short of support, not in the least from his own vocalist Randy Blythe, who makes a guest appearance along with the talents of longtime Lamb of God producer Josh Wilbur! Then there’s the list of ‘friends’: Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees), Josh Todd (Buckcherry), Steve Gorman and Marc Ford (Black Crowes), Mike Inez (Alice in Chains), Ray Luzier (Korn), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Chuck Billy (Testament), Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge), Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach), Jean-Paul Gaster (Clutch), Jake Oni (ONI), Prince Markie Dee (The Fat Boys), Naeemah Maddox – and buddy, it’s enviable!!! Recorded everywhere from LA to Baltimore to Grand Cayman, these great artists really take this album well beyond a ‘solo’ record to a high level release along the lines of Slash’s first solo album and Dave Grohl’s side project Probot, which is commendable indeed. But what really makes the “Anesthetic” here is the way Morton has taken the musicians out’ve their established boxes into some unexpected territory like Josh Todd roaring on the aggressive rap core of ‘Back From The Dead’ while adding his soul to the chorus amid a pistoning double bass beat while rapper Prince Markie Dee actually sings on the trippy, bass heavy ‘Blur’, complete with tons of wailing stoner guitar and wah – awesome! Even soul singer Naeemah Maddox rises to the challenge in fine style thanks to Morton on the light, soul infused rock of ‘Reveal’ with its gentle guitars that crank out some sassy blues breaks along with a suave piano in the background. Of the more expected collaborations, then the double bass driving savagery of ‘The Never’ with Chuck Billy and Jake Oni providing contrasting hateful / soulful vocals and ‘Truth Is Dead’ with Blythe and White-Gluz featuring plenty of spiralling catchy guitar work to accompany the roars, evil rasps as well as some soulful singing from both definitely hit the mark. Still, the emotional effect of hearing the late but still great Chester Bennington on the turbulent ‘Cross Off’ with its ambient, brooding pieces contrasting with heavy, chundering guitars and stomping drums was the stand out for me, while Myles Kennedy’s astounding singing on the grungy rock of ‘Save Defiance’ grabbed my heart with all the beauty of its soul as well as its unmistakable power. More than a project come to fruition, “Anesthetic” is a statement thanks to the vision of Mark Morton.