Mekong Delta - _Wanderer on the Edge of Time_
(AAARRG Records, 2010)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (6.5 out of 10)
Thrash metal has always been an intriguing highway with two major lanes: an American lane and a German lane. They both started around the same time, but the amount of bands coming from both countries wasn't always equal. German bands were not as numerous as Americans, but some of them had the quality that could eclipse that of ten of their American counterparts. Case in point: Mekong Delta. They've always outsmarted the rest of the pack and they are on par with Anacrusis in integrating elements of classical composition and contriving progressive thrash metal. It's a definition that may be a little wordy and it might have you asking 'why did you say thrash?' after listening to the band's ninth album _Wanderer on the Edge of Time_.

You see, it's a fifteen track effort spread out over forty-nine minutes and consisting of seven movements. Seems pretty outlandish compared to your average 10-track, 40-minute retro-thrash album, doesn't it? Well that is because it's not a retro-thrash album and in some respects it doesn't reside close to the thrash metal bone either. Martin LeMar's vocals aren't the screamed hoarse ones you'd normally expect on a German thrash record; they actually lean more towards a Daniel Gilendlöw style of singing. Bassist and mastermind Ralf Hubert seems quite comfortable with dividing his desired sound over so many tracks without them being a distraction to the listener.

Proceedings are started with an introductory acoustic guitar track and its foundation is built upon by "Ouverture", pushing things a little towards the heavier side. Yet in spite of having some decent melodies, "A Certain Fool" doesn't capitalize on the momentum laid out for it as one would expect. The first individually distinguishable riff on the album makes its appearance on "The 5th Element"; a track on which drummer Alex Landenburg adds some rather tactful chops to raise the level of intrigue. There are five dispersed interludes around the album that all use the same riffing blue print to provide swift transitions from song to song.

You'll reach track number seven and the album isn't even halfway through, but this particular cut, "The Apocalypt", is a fast paced aural apocalypse with extensive input from all members. The action continues with "Intermezzo"; a track with quite a few tricks but may sound a little all over the place at times. "Mistaken Truth" keeps rising and falling without any apparent structure but like the relay runners, the last piece "Finale", picks up right where "Mistaken Truth" leaves off and closes off the album in coherent fashion.

_Wanderer on the Edge of Time_ also marks the fourth appearance of that violin-playing skeleton on a Mekong Delta album cover. This time it appears to be performing in the middle of a bisected concert hall. The right side is classical European architecture with arched marble gates, painted ceilings and statues of angels. The left side is futuristic as it contains steel rods between windows, reflective ceiling and the skeleton's electronically enhanced left arm. This record certainly combines old and new qualities and I'd like to believe that this cover depicts the band's intention on keeping their thrash roots while maintaining a forward thinking mentality regarding their sound. Having said that, I think _Wanderer on the Edge of Time_ is one of those records that you'll have to get into to really enjoy.


(article published 3/10/2010)

10/3/2007 K Sarampalis 7 Mekong Delta - Lurking Fear
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