Mortification is/was an Australian death metal band. Formed in 1987 as the thrash/power metal band Light Force, they are arguably the most famous Christian band in their genre as well as one of the faces of Australian death metal as a whole. They are recognizable for their experimentation with elements from several other metal subgenres and for the recognizable scream of bassist/singer Steve Rowe.
The group's debut Self-Titled Album was released in 1991, and was followed by their second record Scrolls of the Megilloth a year later, which proved to be their breakthrough release. It received widespread acclaim not only from Christian review outlets, but from the metal press as a whole, and is often regarded as one of the best death metal albums of the early 1990s.
After their third album Post Momentary Affliction, their sound began to take an experimental direction, incorporating elements of different genres outside of death metal. This began with their fourth album Blood World in 1994, which took influence from hardcore punk and groove metal, a direction they continued in on their next album Primitive Rhythm Machine. While their new direction was well-received within Christian metal circles, fans of their original straightforward death/thrash style did not fully embrace the change.
Envision Evangeline, released in 1996, saw them add traditional and power metal into their sound. While the album received rave reviews, it would sadly be followed by a chain of misfortunes.
Not long after its release, frontman Steve Rowe was diagnosed with leukemia, but despite a botched bone marrow transplant and being told by doctors that he had mere hours left on several visits, he managed to survive and make a full recovery. The band's seventh album Triumph of Mercy dropped in 1998, which continued in the power/heavy metal influenced direction of Evangeline and lyrically detailed Steve's struggle with his mortality during his treatment. However, despite being a very personal record, it was extremely negatively received by fans and only foreshadowed what was to come.
Their next few records were received even more poorly, which led to their commercial and critical decline as well as solidifying their descent into all but complete obscurity outside of Christian and death metal circles. In a positive turn, though, they addressed the dissatisfaction with their prior direction and returned to straightforward thrash/death metal on their 11th studio album Brain Cleaner in 2004, which while generally not considered up to par with their classic material, was thought to be a step in the right direction. It also contained "Livin' Like a Zombie", which would go on to become their most famous song. They would continue to release new music on a semi-regular basis until the early 2010s, after which Steve focused on nonmetal side projects and other endeavors.
Unfortunately, less than a year after their long awaited fourteenth album Realm of the Skelataur released in 2015, Steve suffered a stroke and announced afterwards that he was putting all of his projects on hold. Since then, all that became of the band was a brief jam session possibly hinting at new material, but this was never built upon.
Despite no official announcement being given, it's more or less been confirmed that the band is no longer together, as their official social media has hinted that they chose to call it a day in 2019. It's unknown as to why, but it's possible that Steve's health scares catching up with him was a factor, as even putting his stroke aside, he had been dealing with the effects his leukemia treatment had on his body in the many years following.
Since then, the band has ceased nearly all activities, only occasionally updating their fan pages to promote the 2020 reissues of their albums. Though the possibility of them writing music again isn't out of the question, it seems for now that they have left their mark on the scene and will remain out of the spotlight.
- Mortification (1991)
- Scrolls of the Megilloth (1992)
- Post Momentary Affliction (1993)
- Blood World (1994)
- Primitive Rhythm Machine (1995)
- Envision Envangeline (1996)
- Triumph of Mercy (1998)
- Hammer of God (1999)
- The Silver Cord Is Severed (2001)
- Relentless (2002)
- Brain Cleaner (2004)
- Erasing the Goblin (2006)
- The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine (2009)
- Realm of the Skelataur (2015)
TROPES OF THE MEGILLOTH!
- Christian Rock: Undoubtedly the most popular death metal band in this genre, at least from their time period. They were also massively influential on the Christian Metal scene as a whole. Many of their lyrics, however, aren't stereotypical of the genre and often cover common death metal subjects from a Christian or biblical perspective.
- Death Metal: The root of their sound, though their experimental period from the mid-90s through early 2000s gradually moved further from it until they returned to their roots with Brain Cleaner and never looked back. They are also, along with Psycroptic, arguably the most famous band in the genre from Australia.
- Epic Rocking: They have quite a few songs that surpass the 7-minute mark, with many of their albums having at least one:
- Scrolls of the Megilloth has "Ancient Prophecy" (11:42)
- Post Momentary Affliction has "From the Valley of Shadows" (8:05), "Distarnish Priest" (7:25), and "Overseer" (9:18)
- Blood World has "Symbiosis" (7:11)
- The title track of Envision Envangeline is their longest song to date clocking in at 18:49.
- Triumph of Mercy has its title track at exactly 7 minutes.
- Hammer of God has "Metal Crusade" (7:15)
- The Silver Cord Is Severed has the titular track (8:12)
- Brain Cleaner has "Livin' Like a Zombie" (7:05)
- And finally, Realm of the Skelataur has "The Cost" (7:05) and "Pushing Weird Buttons" (7:09)
- Genre-Busting: Between Envision Envangeline and Relentless, their sound was a mix of death metal, power metal, traditional heavy metal, and groove metal.
- Grindcore: Heavily influenced by it and have dabbled in it quite a bit, though they've never been a full fledged example.
- Handicapped Badass: Steve's leukemia caused him to develop cancer in his spinal fluid, so even after beating the disease, he was left with a degree of paraplegia that gradually took a toll on him. In the years following Triumph of Mercy, he even eventually had to sit down to perform vocals. Yet, he continued soldiering on and was even able to replicate his old vocal style after a while.
- Heavy Mithril: They have a few tracks about the power of metal music, to the point that it's listed on Metal Archives as one of their lyrical themes.
- Horrible History Metal: "New York Skies" is about 9/11.
- Made of Iron: Steve. His 1996 leukemia diagnosis was not expected to be survivable, to the point that his doctor told him he had mere hours to live on numerous occasions. Despite this, he not only managed to survive, but continued to perform for nearly twenty years following his recovery despite the effects the treatment had on his health and lived through a stroke well after that. The guy is absolutely resilient.
- Miniscule Rocking: Excluding instrumental interludes, they also have quite a few songs that are under 2 minutes, many of which (though not all) being humorous and/or tongue in cheek in nature:
- Their self titled debut has "Turn" (0:34) and "The Majestic Infiltration of Order" (1:06)
- Blood World has "J.G.S.H." (0:29)
- Primitive Rhythm Machine has "Killing Evil" (0:22)
- Hammer of God has "D.W.A.M." (1:59)
- Realm of the Skelataur has "Slaughter Demon Headz" (0:55), "40 Day Fast" (0:17), and their shortest song, "Grave Sucking" (a mere 7 seconds)
- New Sound Album: Several:
- Scrolls of the Megilloth shifted away from the death/thrash sound of their debut in favor of a denser, straightforward death metal sound with slight grind influence, while Post Momentary Affliction was something of a fusion of the previous two records.
- Blood World featured prominent crust and hardcore elements, as well as a more stripped down sound and a more shout like vocal style.
- Primitive Rhythm Machine had strong tribal and groove metal influences akin to Sepultura, whom Steve cited as an inspiration for its sound.
- Envision Envangeline featured a more epic sound drawing elements from power metal and traditional heavy metal, creating sort of a melodic death 'n' roll sound, while Triumph of Mercy continued in a similar direction, albeit more streamlined and groove-oriented, which continued on their next three albums.
- Brain Cleaner completely stripped away the genre blending of their past several records, returning to the pure death/thrash metal sound of their first three releases, though with a slightly more modern edge, complete with Steve revisiting his low vocal style on several tracks. Erasing the Goblin continued in this direction.
- The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine placed more emphasis on the thrash side of their original sound, serving as a throwback to late 80s proto-death that Steve described as "easy listening thrash".
- Realm of the Skeletaur once again returned to their roots, being something of a mixture between their classic era and 2004-2009 sound.
- Shout-Out: "Our Anthem" name drops every single one of their albums up to that point.
- Vocal Evolution: Much like many other death metal singers, Steve's voice gradually became higher over the years, eventually evolving into a scream/chant by Hammer of God. Circa Brain Cleaner, he has gone back to using his lower growls, alternating between both vocal styles since.