Mekong Delta - Lurking Fear
AFM Records
Progressive Thrash Metal
10 songs (49'15")
Release year: 2007
Mekong Delta, AFM Records
Reviewed by Adam
I've always thought of Germany's Mekong Delta as a sort of "thinking man's thrash" band, similar to Voivod. Their use of odd time signatures and other progressive elements add a unique touch to a genre that can tend to blend together. As this is, unfortunately, the first review of theirs for this site, allow me a small introduction. Mekong Delta has been around for over 20 years now, though admittedly their heyday was in the late 80's and early 90's with the releases of such thrash classics as their self titled debut and The Music of Erich Zann. Their last album was 1997's instrumental album Pictures at an Exhibition, and the band, or rather the last remaining original member Ralf Hubert, had been quiet up until a few years ago. It was revealed that Ralf just needed a break, one hell of a break obviously, and he recruited guitarist Peter Lake of Theory in Practice. Former Mekong Delta drummer Uli Kusch would soon join as well, and the three began to write new material. The final piece to this latest lineup was vocalist Leo Szpigiel (don't ask me how the hell to pronounce his name). Finally, after 10 long years, the band's eighth studio album is upon us in the form of Lurking Fear, named after a Lovecraft story which should come as no shock to people who follow this group.

I have read that Leo was brought in after the bulk of the material for Lurking Fear had already been written, and unfortunately, it shows. Szpigiel is by no means a bad singer, in fact he is actually very good, but his vocals just don't seem to fit with the music like they should. It's hard to describe, and others will surely feel differently, but his power metal styled vocals just seem to do more detriment to the album than good. I'm sure this will improve with time, but for now it is a rather glaring flaw. OK, so now that the bad is out of the way, let's move on to the good, of which there is plenty to go around. The riffing, as with every Mekong Delta album I've had the pleasure of hearing, is superb. It is equal parts fast, technical, and engaging. The opening barrage to Society in Dissolution is a good example, and brought a smile to my face as I'm sure it will to other longtime fans of this band. Ten years have certainly not harmed this band's, or Ralf's, songwriting ability in the slightest. The production is crisp and full, and Peter Lake's guitar lines are furiously played with a surgeon's precision, which makes perfect sense considering his past work. The second entry, Purification, honestly sounds like a post script to the opening track, which makes its 5 minute running time seem curious and unnecessary. The third track, Immortal Hate (Accepting Prayers of Supremacy), is the first track where Szpigiel's vocals really work with the rest of the band. The rhythm of this song, in true progressive fashion, has enough time changes to make your head spin, and the aggresive vocals are a key aspect to this blazing approach. There are three instrumental, orchestral style tracks, Allegro Furioso, Moderato, and Allegro. All three are technically brilliant and classically styled, though at times they can sound a little too busy. Star Wars fans should keep an ear out for a familiar melody in Moderato.

Though Lurking Fear lasts for nearly 50 minutes, it feels much shorter, and frankly a little thrown together. I could tell by listening that these guys had not been playing together for very long, as there were a few times that they sounded like separate pieces instead of a cohesive unit. Of course, this is still Mekong Delta, and their sub par is most band's best day. The riffs like those in Rules of Corruption, Defenders of the Faith, and Symphony of Agony are more than enough to make this album enjoyable and mandatory listening for any thrash fan.

Comebacks often unfold much the same way as Mekong Delta's has thus far, with an album that, while not being the runaway success that fans hoped for, is still a strong effort that shows promise. Hopefully, a second album with this same lineup will allow the rest of the guys to write songs with Szpigiel's vocals in mind, and hopefully he can adapt his style to mesh better with the outstanding riffing that looks to continue to be the backbone of this great band.
Killing Songs :
Society in Dissolution, Immortal Hate (Accepting Prayers of Supremacy), Symphony of Agony
Adam quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Mekong Delta that we have reviewed:
Mekong Delta - Wanderer on the Edge of Time reviewed by Charles and quoted 86 / 100
Mekong Delta - The Music of Erich Zann reviewed by Charles and quoted 90 / 100
Mekong Delta - Mekong Delta reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
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