There are some bands in the metal genre that have attained cult status. Old school Texas thrash outfit Rigor Mortis is one of those bands. Although the group only released two proper albums in their 30 year history, the band’s 1988 self-titled debut album is a thrash gem. Twenty-six years later, the band has released its final record Slaves to the Grave. It is a tribute to late guitarist Mike Scaccia, who recorded the guitar tracks before his death in December of 2012. It is also a proper send off for an underrated but heavily respected band. The band released the record themselves and raised the money through IndieGoGo.
The album opener “Poltergeist” has the signature manic, crossover sound that Rigor Mortis is known for. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt sounds just like he did 25 years ago, with his fast lyrical recitation and gravelly voice. Mike Scaccia’s guitar work is incendiary with a razor sharp riffs and plays a beautiful, yet haunting guitar lead as the song ends. The thrash attack continues on “Rain of Ruin.” Again, Scaccia gives his all on this track with a fiery guitar solo and neck snapping riffage. Drummer Harden Harrison breaks out a d-beat, showing the band’s hardcore roots. The relentless “Flesh for Flies” rages like a swarm of killer bees. The take no prisoners mentality is abound on this track and the riffs engulf the track like a category five hurricane. The Iron Maidenesque “The Infected” is a maze of technical musicianship. The speed picks up on “Blood Bath,” easily one of the fastest tracks on the record and one of the longest at 6 1/2 minutes. The song twists and turns like a crimson river before culminating with another soulful guitar solo. The eerie, gloomy atmosphere of the instrumental dirge “Sacramentum Gladiatorum” is another high point, with its foreboding guitar passages. The final track “Ludus Magnus” pays homage to the Great Gladitorial Training School. What better way to end a record than to go out like a warrior? The militaristic drumming drives the track as Corbitt describes the training and rigors of Rome’s mightiest fighters. The track is triumphant and excellently concludes the final chapter of Rigor Mortis.
Slaves to the Grave shows a band at its finest and final hour. Mike Scaccia’s amazing guitar work is captured in all its glory. The band plays at its finest and its most technical, always having fun and never sounding forced. This is metal the way it is meant to be played. Thank you Bruce, Casey, Harden and Mike for all you’ve done in the metal genre. Rest in peace, Mike, you are truly a gladiator.
Rigor Mortis can be followed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rigormortis25.