Review by Greg Maki
Maybe the most remarkable aspect of “Anesthetic,” the debut solo album from Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton, is that it sounds like exactly that—an album. The 10 songs feature 12 lead vocalists, yet it feels cohesive and of a piece. And though much of the guitar playing is unmistakable, it doesn’t sound at all like Lamb of God with a rotating cast of singers.
The closest “Anesthetic” gets to Morton’s day job is the album closer, “The Truth is Dead,” but that’s only on the parts featuring the screams and growls of Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe; the rest of it has a decidedly different feel, given the presence of Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz.
The riffing is tight and thick on the album’s heaviest track, “The Never,” featuring Testament’s Chuck Billy and Jake Oni of Canadian progressive metal act Oni. At the other end of the spectrum, Morton adapts his style the most to accommodate the gravelly voiced Mark Lanegan on the acoustic-led “Axis” and on “Reveal,” featuring Naeemah Maddox, a song one almost could call poppy.
The rest of the songs fall somewhere between those two extremes, highlighted by “Cross Off,” featuring the late Chester Bennington, excelling on heavier material than he ever had to work with in Linkin Park; “Save Defiance,” with a typically limber vocal by Myles Kennedy; the slower, more grooving “Blur,” featuring Sons of Texas’ Mark Morales, who will handle vocals for Morton on tour; and “Imaginary Days,” where Morton handles the vocal himself and proves to be a fine singer.
In addition to the many vocalists, Morton’s backing band for the album is a rotating cast, including Roy Mayorga, David Ellefson, Ray Luzier, Paolo Gregoletto, Alex Bent, Mike Inez, Jean-Paul Gaster, Steve Gorman, Marc Ford, Yanni Papadopoulos and Chris Brooks.
With Lamb of God set to support Slayer on tour again this year and rumblings suggesting a new album is coming soon, it’s unclear how much time Morton will have to properly support “Anesthetic.” I hope it gets its due, though, because it’s a solid record falling somewhere between rock and metal, and showcasing a talented and versatile musician.
1. “Cross Off” (featuring Chester Bennington)
2. “Sworn Apart” (featuring Jacoby Shaddix)
3. “Axis” (featuring Mark Lanegan)
4. “The Never” (featuring Chuck Billy and Jake Oni)
5. “Save Defiance” (featuring Myles Kennedy)
6. “Blur” (featuring Mark Morales)
7. “Back from the Dead” (featuring Josh Todd)
8. “Reveal” (featuring Naeemah Maddox)
9. “Imaginary Days”
10. “The Truth is Dead” (featuring Randy Blythe and Alissa White-Gluz)
(WPP Records/Spinefarm Records, March 1, 2019)