Mark Morton Shines Again On His Second Solo Record

Courtesy: Rise Records

When Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton released his debut solo album Anasthetic last March through Spinefarm Records, he more than showed the expanse of his musical abilities and interests.  The record, which joined Morton with a number of well-known names, such as the late Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington, Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy and ex Screaming Trees front man Mark Lanegan, showed Morton as a truly original and creative musician, not just one of the members of Lamb of God.  He followed up that successful offering this past January with his debut solo EP Ether.  The five-song EP, released through Rise Records, will get a second life of sorts June 19 when it is released on vinyl through Rise Records.  Regardless of whether one prefers vinyl, CD or even digital, the fact of the matter remains that Ether is a positive follow-up to Anasthetic.  That is due to the record’s musical and lyrical content.  Its penultimate song ‘Love My Enemy’ is one of the songs that serves to support the noted statement.  It will be addressed shortly.  The EP’s opener ‘All I Had to Lose’ is another way in which Ether shows its strength.  It will be addressed a little later.  Its follow-up ‘The Fight’ is one more way in which Ether shows its strength.  Together with the covers of The Black Crowes’ ‘She Talks To Angels’ and of Pearl Jam’s ‘Black,’ ‘The Fight’ and the other noted songs make Ether a wholly enjoyable follow-up to Anasthetic and one more of this year’s top new EPs.

Mark Morton’s debut EP Ether is a strong follow-up to his debut 2019 album Anasthetic.  Much with that album, this EP shows once again why he is more than just a member of Lamb of God, but rather a talented, creative musician in his own right.  That is evidenced in part through the EP’s penultimate song, ‘Love My Enemy.’  The song, which features vocals by Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed, Light The Torch), presents an interesting musical arrangement.  The verses conjure thoughts of Alice in Chains, what with the layered vocal effect and the subdued guitar and drum lines.  The chorus however, boasts more of an Alter Bridge type of sound as the guitars and vocals step up.  The song’s bass line adds its own touch to the whole to make the work’s composition quite engaging and entertaining in its own right.  What is important to note here is the pairing of that duality in the song’s arrangement and its connection to the emotion and message in the song’s lyrical theme.  The song’s lyrical theme serves to make that reason for that juxtaposition clear.

Jones sings in the song’s lead verse, “Open wounds before the start/This is where we fall apart/It’s alright/Eternity can die today/It’s alright/It’s okay.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We can greet the end alone/Sorrow needs an empty home/It’s alright/Years and pain can fade away/It’s alright/It’s okay.”  In the song’s third and final verse, “Jones sings, “There’s no replacing/The time we’re wasting.”  These verses are deeply introspective, needless to say.  That final verse is relatively clear, as it makes a statement about making the most of the time that we have.  The first and second verses meanwhile will generate their own hare of interest.  Maybe the lead statement of “open wounds before the start/This is where we fall apart” is a statement connected to the note of the wasted time.  It’s as if it is making a note about open wounds being a failure from the beginning.  The statement in the second verse years and pain being able to fade away seems to perhaps be a statement of hope, that the past can be just that.  This is of course all this critic’s own interpretation.  The song’s chorus adds even more impact to the song, as it comes across as perhaps someone battling with him/herself.  The chorus states, “I can’t live on memories/I can’ love my enemy/We cannot repair the past/A broken heart is made of glass/No, I can’t live on memories.”  This seems like someone who is torn with trying to overcome the thoughts of the past and look to the future.  It would explain why the song’s musical arrangement is so much more powerful in the chorus than the verses.  It would serve to illustrate the subject’s heightened emotion in this moment.  This leads the song’s more contemplative counter to those heightened emotions to make more sense along with its musical accompaniment.  Again this is all this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  Hopefully it is somewhere close to being correct, though.  Keeping all of this in mind, the song’s lyrical content proves just as important as its musical content.  All things considered, the song in whole, with its engaging musical and lyrical content shows well on its own, why Ether is another strong offering from Mark Morton.  It is just one of the songs that serves to exhibit that strength.  ‘All I Had to Lose’ does its own part to keep listeners’ ears and minds.

‘All I Had to Lose’ is important to note because it presents its own unique identity separate from that of ‘Love My Enemy’ and the EP’s other songs.  The song’s fully acoustic arrangement is a radio ready composition that will connect easily to audiences.  The addition of Sons of Texas front man Mark Morales’ vocal delivery adds to that commercial viability for the opus.  The combination of those elements makes the song in whole a work that is comparable to works from so many mainstream rock bands.  The appeal created through the song’s musical arrangement will keep listeners engaged, and in turn, paying attention to the song’s equally engaging lyrical content.

The lyrical content featured in ‘All I Had to Lose’ generates its own engagement because of its own contemplative nature.  Morales sings in the song’s lead verse, “We were reckless for a season, now/Restless with a reason/I can’t tell/If we were victims of the vices/Or addicted to the crisis/Lived through hell.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We laid with it/Dead and dying/Told ‘em all we were just trying/To be alive/Closed our eyes/I know that we could leave/The lies we didn’t want to leave behind.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Watched the colors fade away/Reached out by the sun/left her for another day/Prayed it would never come.”  The precise concept here is not clear at least to this critic.  It comes across as something of a statement about perhaps someone taking things for granted in life.  Whether that is in relation to a personal relationship or something else is up for discussion.  It would be interesting to learn the exact relation of that seeming message.  That Morales sings in the song’s chorus, “And when you came up for breath/I knew there wasn’t nothing left to do but choose/And everything I lost/Wasn’t much compared to all I had to lose” adds to the argument that the song’s lyrical theme is a personal message about taking for granted what one has in life.  Again, what exactly was being taken for granted – whether it be a personal relationship or something else – is something that is left for interpretation.  Either way, the fact that this seems to be the message makes the song’s musical content couple well with this half of the song’s content.  Taking everything noted here into account, the whole of the song shows even more why Ether will keep listeners engaged from start to end.  It is just one more way in which Ether proves its appeal.  ‘The Fight’ is one more way in which the EP shows its strength.

‘The Fight’ is an interesting addition to Ether.  That is due in part to its overall musical arrangement.  This composition is so starkly opposite of any of the other songs featured in this record.  The verses are distinctly subtle, but not necessarily reserved per say.  There is a certain Sevendust-esque sense to the song from the band’s more recent works, in listening closely to the arrangement.  The chorus meanwhile pack a little bit more of a punch, but it’s not a knockout punch.  Even in this case, there is a certain amount of control.  It makes for a very interesting listen.  It is not necessarily a radio ready work, but still is worth hearing.  That unique arrangement couples well with the song’s equally engaging lyrical theme, which comes across as one of those songs about someone driving along and having enough time to contemplate a lot of life matters.

Moontooth front man John Carbone provides the vocals for this song.  His vocal delivery is comparable to that of Sevendust front man Lajon Witherspoon as he sings in the song’s lead verse, “Thundering down the cold, dark desert road/It ain’t the miles you’re looking at/Ain’t the pavement you see/But its ghost/And all the trials that lay ahead/Yeah, it becomes your only friend.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Rumbling ground/It shakes from the load/the burden that you live to bear/Deafening sound, it rings in your soul/Make you forget what brought you here/Now the ending ain’t so clear.”  While the song’s musical arrangement doesn’t quite do so, this portion of the song leaves one making comparisons to Bob Seger’s hit song ‘Turn The Page.’  It seems to have that same kind of lyrical approach; someone on the road, lots of thoughts on the mind, etc. etc. etc.  It is an interesting sort of update, although it likely was not intended.  The comparison is strengthened even more as Carbone sings in the song’s chorus, “When you live for the fight for too long/You burn for the bloody way out/But the only hope for a victory/Is to learn to lay it down.”  It’s as if he is saying, even with all the thinking and things on a person’s mind, a person may want a certain outcome, but the outcome we want may not always be the best outcome.  Again, this is all this critic’s interpretation.   Hopefully it is in the proverbial ballpark.  That aside, all of this is sure to generate its own share of discussion among listeners.  Together with its accompanying musical content, the engagement and entertainment ensured through the song’s musical and lyrical content shows once more why Ether succeeds overall.  Together with the two covers that join this work and the EP’s two other originals, the record overall proves itself to be a complete work and a complete success for Morton and company.

Mark Morton’s recently released EP Ether is a strong follow-up to his debut solo album Anasthetic (2019).  That is because it continues to exhibit Morton’s talents as more than just another metal guitarist, but a widely-versed musician and songwriter.  That is evidenced through all three of the record’s original works and its two covers.  The musical and lyrical content in each original as well as the adaptation of the covers do well to support those statements.  All things considered, Ether can be considered in whole, to be one of this year’s top new EPs.

More information on Ether is available online now along with all of Mark Morton’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://markmortonmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/markmortonmusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/MarkDuaneMorton

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mark Morton’s Solo Debut LP Will Leave Listeners Anything But Numb

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

It’s hard to do the same thing over and over for years at a time.  Everybody knows that.  It’s why people change jobs.  It is also why members of musical acts across the musical universe decide at one point or another to branch out and try their hands at something new (I.E. solo albums). Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton joined those ranks in March with his debut solo album Anasthetic.  The 10-song, 42 minute record shows Morton as not just a metal guitarist, but rather a multi-talented musician who has the capability to succeed in any musical genre.  This is proven in part late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Reveal.’  It will be addressed shortly.  The surprisingly subdued ‘Axis,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another way in which Morton’s wide range of talent is exhibited in this record.  ‘Save Defiance,’ the album’s mid-point is yet another way in which Morton’s full talents are put on display and will also be addressed later.  Each song noted here is important in its own way in proving Mark Morton is more than just another metal shredder.  When they are examined along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole of the album creates a new and deserved respect for Morton and his abilities.

Mark Morton’s debut self-titled album Anasthetic is a strong first solo outing for the Lamb of God guitarist.  That is because it allowed Morton to fully put on display, his talents as a guitarist.  It allowed him to show he is talented at doing more than just churning out heavy, shredding riffs.  Rather, it shows he can handle his own in almost any genre of music.  ‘Reveal,’ which comes late in the album’s run is just one of the album’s entries that supports those statements.  The song, recorded with singer/songwriter Naeemah Maddox, is the polar opposite of anything that Morton has ever done as a member of LoG.  The work presented by Morton here, is gentle and bluesy.  It expertly compliments the Philadelphia-born vocalist’s delivery and the work of their fellow musicians.  His bluesy guitar solo lends itself so easily to comparisons to the best work of Derek Trucks and Carlos Santana.  It is a true, full departure from everything that fans of Morton’s work have ever known, and it is so in the best way possible.

The song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  Its positive lyrical content couples with its musical to make the song in whole even more interesting.  Maddox sings in the song’s lead verse, “Could be all for sale/Or could be smoke and mirrors/The end is growing near/Or could be smoke and mirrors/Say who you are/Go set your truth/Don’t be the rude in another’s fair/See how you feel/And the nreveal/You may not be who you are/Right at this moment in time.”  She continues in the song’s second verse, “Go and dig a well/And hide as you abide/See, I’m fragile as a shell/And echo like a bell.”  She adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Willing, you have your own mind/You can think for yourself.”  She is saying here that things aren’t always just black and white.  There are shades of grey, so be you and be the best you can be.  That is at least this critic’s own town on this.  It is just one interpretation.  Hopefully it is somewhere close to being right as it certainly seems to send a rather positive message to listeners.  That, taken into consideration with the song’s musical arrangement, makes the song just one of Anasthetic’s most notable tracks and just one of the most notable examples of Morton’s wide range of talent.  ‘Axis,’ which comes much earlier in the album’s run, is another key example of Morton’s abilities and, in turn, most notable additions.

‘Axis’ is another key example of Morton’s talents and by connection another of this record’s most notable entries.  Crafted with vocalist Mark Lanegan (ex-Screaming Trees), the song’s subdued arrangement lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Tom Waitts and Bruce Springsteen.  That is most evident in Lanegan’s vocals and Morton’s guitar work.  Again, this is a stark departure for Morton from the intensity of the work that he has done over the years with Lamb of God.  It shows he can do so much more than jus play fast and loud, but rather also slower and with great dynamic control.  It makes for that much more respect for Morton and his abilities.  The song’s musical arrangement does a lot to make this work stand out, and is just one part of what makes it stand out.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest to the song’s whole.

Lanegan sings seemingly in this song, about someone who has been through quite a bit of adversity in life and is struggling to get through it.  What’s interesting here is that for all the adversity, the song doesn’t come across as some sort of emo type song.  Rather, it harkens back to the great blues songs of days long ago through its lyrical delivery.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “I came down with a fever/The catacombs, they were filled/Lucifer within my larynx/Clothing a sarcophagus/Baby, set my head on fire/Every man is born to die/The Captain called me out on a carpet, boys/You know I got a tear in my eye/”  he continues in the song’s second verse, “I have been lost and wandering/A wanderer I remain/Met Judas in West Texas/Tried to take my name/Now I am lost and wandering/And wandering, I am blind/Will the moon come off its axis/Before I lose my mind/I came down with a sickness/Pouring down just like rain/Red, red sun in the evening/Red, red heart full of pain.”  He adds a touch more in the song’s third and final verse, but the song in whole is pretty clear.  Again, this is someone who has gone through so much.  It is just a classic, retro style country blues type work even in its lyrical presentation.  That content, coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, makes it a piece that is sure to appeal to plenty of listeners.  It will appeal so widely because of that aspect and because, again, it shows that Morton is not just a one-trick pony.  It shows he can do quite a bit more than just metal, and can do so quite well at that.  It still is not the last of the songs featured in this record that serves to exhibit that talent and interest.  ‘Save Defiance,’ the record’s mid-point, is one more example of Morton’s broad range of talent.

‘Save Defiance’ was recorded with Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy.  Fittingly, this song’s arrangement presents Morton as an able mainstream hard rock driver just as much as a metal guitarist.  What is truly interesting here is that the grouping of Morton, Kennedy and the rest of the song’s featured musicians immediately leads to comparisons to some of Alter Bridge’s best works.  Again, this is a good thing because it shows how much more Morton can do than just shred really fast and hard.  It shows here that he can create some really heavy, melodic riffs, too.  Morton’s ability to so easily liken himself to Mark Tremonti shows yet again just why he is such an important figure not just in the rock community, but in the music community in whole.  As much as Morton’s abilities do for himself and for the song, they are just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content plays its own important part to the whole of the song.

Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “Into the last refrain/As your empire falls/World in decay/Our backs against the wall/Tell me, now/Is it too late/Tell me, now/Who’ll pay the cost/For all the times you’ve disengaged/Tomorrow could be lost/Stop what you started/Open your eyes/The truth is the hardest thing to deny.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Save defiance/And hope you’ve got one last shot/Blood of tyrants running cold/They will never stop/Save defiance/You alone will resist in time/Break alliance to behold shifting paradigms/There is no time to waste/This you can’t deny/The truth you embrace was only just a lie/Now do you see you’re betrayed/now you must keep your resolved/Or everything you sacrifice to keep/Will forever be dissolved/Stop what they started/Open your eyes/They’re reaping a harvest/And bleeding you dry.”  He reminds listeners in the song’s third verse, “This is your season/Take it and rise/The battle’s drawing/Fight for your lives.”  This is a call to action, point blank.  This is a socio-political commentary that is urging people everywhere to not sit idly by and allow those who do bad in the world to continue their heinous acts.  He is telling listeners to stand up and do something and make a difference.  That is at least this critic’s own take on this content.  The power and urgency in the song’s musical arrangement works to make this seem the case, so hopefully it is at least somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  Thinking about the power of the song’s combined musical and lyrical content along with that of the power of the other discussed songs’ power and variety, they show clearly together just how talented Mark Morton really is.  When the variety and power in the songs discussed here is considered along with that of the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the record becomes a strong solo debut for Morton.  It serves to show regardless of where his future takes him, Morton can and will be successful.

Mark Morton’s debut solo album Anesthetic is a strong first effort from the Lamb of God guitarist.  That is because while it does continue to display his metal chops throughout, it does more than that.  It also shows his abilities in other regions of the musical universe.  That, combined with lyrical content that is just as certain as the record’s musical content to keep listeners engaged, makes the record a positive offering from Morton and all involved.  All things considered, the album proves to be a presentation that will leave listeners anything but numb.  More information on Anasthetic is available online now along with all of Mark Morton’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://markmortonmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/markmortonmusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MarkDuaneMorton

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.