RIGOR MORTIS – Rigor Mortis (1988)
Review by Estelle in December 2013
- Welcome to Your Funeral
- Bodily Dismemberment
- Condemned to Hell
- Wizard of Gore
- Shroud of Gloom
- Die in Pain
- Slow Death
Genre: Thrash Metal
Label: Capitol Records
Date: July 19th, 1988
Bruce Corbitt – Vocals
Mike Scaccia – Guitars
Harden Harrison – Drums
Casey Orr – Bass, Vocals (on ‘Die in Pain’)
The four-piece American thrash metal band, Rigor Mortis is hailing from Dallas, Texas. The group was originally formed in the beginning of the golden years of thrash, 1983, when the schoolmates Harden Harrison and Casey Orr met Mike Scaccia. In 1988, when thrash metal already reached the top of its popularity and was also slowly becoming more and more generic because of the plenty of newly formed bands that did the same in the same way, Rigor Mortis managed to create a unique form of thrash metal that had never been heard before – they released their first full-length album named Rigor Mortis with Bruce Corbitt on vocals.
The highlight of the album is probably the sound and the technique of the guitar. Mike Scaccia must have been one of the fastest and most insane guitarists of that time, his dynamic riffs rip your head off and his incredibly rapid yet smooth and fluent solos mesmerize you right at the moment when you first hear them – these two elements create some kind of outstanding mix of deadly brutality and not overused melody.
The album starts with the 3 and a half minutes long instrumental song ‘Welcome to Your Funeral’, which is more than just a common intro – the song is full of outstanding guitar lines and a nice solo, and riffs which are solid, melodic, lively and threatening at the same time. After the menacing beginning here comes the fast and ripping ‘Demons’ which revamps its opening melody into violent riffs and doesn’t let us stop headbanging until the very end of the song; there’s a pause for about 2 seconds and then we get another stroke of brutality for 5 minutes straight into our face with ‘Bodily Dismemberment’, completed with gory and cruel yet in some ways brilliant lyrics and a magical guitar performance at the end. I was watching the film Scarface from 1983 two days after I wrote this review about Rigor Mortis, and suddenly I realized that the sentence “But you wouldn’t listen, would you? Well you stupid fuck, look at you now!” was originally from that film and is in the lyrics of ‘Bodily Dismemberment’. As I got to know from Bruce himself, he really did get that line from the film, along with other parts of the lyrics of different songs, for instance the line “Who’s laughing now?” again in ‘Bodily Dismemberment’ from Evil Dead 2, or referrings to other horror movies Re-Animator or Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The fourth track is the also powerful ‘Condemned to Hell’ saturated with a pile of nice riffs and a chorus that goes hand in hand with the lethal rhythm. ‘Wizard of Gore’ starts slowly and for a second suggests us some ‘breather’ in the forest of nonstop speed and violence, but picks up in seconds and keeps the killer pace up until the end. Then here comes the short but tight and fast ‘Shroud of Gloom’ with an excellent drum and guitar work and the intense ‘Die in Pain’ that has the usual furious riffs–extraordinary solo combination, which is so astonishingly ordinary on this album.
The album rolls onwards without mercy, here comes a(nother) highlight of the album: the fierce ‘Vampire’ is a pure 5 minutes long perfection. From the riffs through the vocals to the solos each detail, each note is well-composed, well-accomplished and definitely enjoyable, we can hear probably the most technical and most amazing guitar playing from Scaccia throughout the whole song and we can cry the “YOU WILL ROT” line with pleasure while showering instead of humming the habitual pop songs, much to the delight of people who live with us.
After 8 exquisite tracks the band still had inspiration and energy for another 2: the fast and tight ‘Re-Animator’ with the usual excellent guitar solo at the middle part, and the merciless ‘Slow Death’ with tense drumming that always keeps up the right tempo and frightening brilliant lyrics borrowed from the hitchhiker part of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre that sound even more freezing and amusing in Corbitt’s delightsome performance at the slower sinister part –
“I have this knife
It’s a good knife!
Well, what have we here?
You all look a little scared
Or should I say prepared
For you may be our next meal
Casey, rip off their flesh
Mike, drain me a glass of blood
Harden, prepare to make carcass stew”
– and the slowly rolling, smooth solo that starts at the last line of this part causes us to feel some kind of strange satisfaction filled with fear and joy.
Although the production of the album is light years ahead of their earlier demo released in 1986, it expectedly isn’t professional. The demo gives the listener a bit more ‘metal-feeling’ when he or she is listening to it because of the completely rude, unfinished sound and the more raw vocals, but fortunately this feeling can still be perfectly found here on the album. The advantage of the production is that it manages to capture the guitar tones, the strength of the vocals and the precision of the drums, which are the most important and impressive parts of the songs.
Corbitt’s vocals are raspy and sometimes are nearing the vocals of death metal, therefore they totally match the aggressive and heavy music. Rigor Mortis also made a lucky hit with the artwork: the easily recognizable cover with the bones and weapons sticking out of a long-haired, laughing skull before a red background are probably the simplest and best way to represent this evil, genuine, down-to-earth thrash metal music.
If you’re looking for something cruel as a wolf that tears up the flesh of its victim, if you’re looking for something unbelievebly fast, something original and something brilliant, here, my friends – you can get all the magic within 41 minutes.
Outstanding tracks: Welcome to Your Funeral, Bodily Dismemberment, Vampire, Slow Death