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Mortland - 'Devil May Care' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/ff/de/41/Screenshot-2019-08-09-at-141759-15-1565360621.png Hot

Added by James Gaden     August 09, 2019    
 
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Impressive debut album from Phenomena and Cloven Hoof alumni.

'Devil May Care' is the debut album from Hard Rock act Mortland, a group created from the partnership of vocalist Matt Moreton and guitarist Andy Shortland. The pair had originally worked together in Queen tribute act The Royal Family before going on to be featured in the excellent touring show 'Whole Lotta Metal', which saw Shortland churning out riffs from Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin among countless others while Moreton handled vocals as one of three led singers, alongside current Nazareth belter Carl Sentence and ex-Black Sabbath frontman Tony Martin.

The pair were recruited to perform on Cloven Hoof's 'Eye Of The Sun' album in 2006, as well as contributing to the Tom Galley's 'Phenomena: PsychoFantasy' record, which saw Shortland contribute to the songwriting and guitar playing, and Moreton holding his own as a guest vocalist alongside impressive names such as Keith Murrell, Glenn Hughes and Lee Small.

Keen to have their own outlet, the pair wrote and recorded an album called 'Dying Days' under the moniker of Carbon Soul, which led to the genesis of Mortland. Augmented by drummer Jordan Spencer, guitarist Dave Buckley and bassist Nick Watson, the quintet began playing covers before trying their hand at original material.

Stylistically, the band play aggressive Hard Rock, with Shortland's abrasive riffs marrying perfectly with Moreton's snarl. 'Light The Fuse' kicks things off with a real statement of intent, leading into the pounding 'Too Close To The Sun'. Early on the group establish the knack of weaving in hooks among the attitude fuelled material. 'Dirty Egos' slows things down and is punctuated by an effective use of keyboards that lead to the anthemic chorus while the relentless 'Monster' is another impressive cut.

Watch the video for Mortland's 'Dirty Egos' here

A real high point for me is 'God In The Machine' which neatly references previous tracks under the guise of tuning a radio before erupting into a great rocker that boasts my favourite chorus on the record. 'Another Wasted Lifetime' employs a cinematic intro and is very strong lyrically before the band revisit the title track from Carbon Soul's album. 'Dying Days' benefits greatly from the new treatment and fits very well with the new material.

'One Last Chance' is the closest the band get to a ballad, which shows a different side to Moreton's voice but the bulk of material here is driving Hard Rock, like the blistering 'The Only One'. Ending with the epic, sweeping 'Hope Returns' which has a huge chorus, Mortland end their impressive first album on a high. Bearing in mind they themselves state the material was inspired by divisive themes such as politics, religion and environmentalism, they could easily have fallen into the trap of sounding pretentious or preachy, but they manage to instead simply provide more ambiguous, thought provoking wordplay, wrapped up in powerhouse compositions.

I've been a fan of Moreton's voice and Shortland's playing ever since I first saw them in 'Whole Lotta Metal' and this, to my ears, is their best work to date.

James Gaden

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