Released on the 16th of November, Mentor’s second album Cults, Crypts and Corpses is a late entry in the race for Album of the Year 2018, but it has quickly made up for lost time, sprinting past Wrathrone’s Reflections of Torment to take the lead.
Mentor are a Polish band whose 2016 debut Guts, Graves and Blasphemy flew under my radar (but rest assured that has been corrected). They play an aggressive, propulsive blend of hardcore, thrash and (to a lesser extent) death metal that seamlessly, effectively incorporates bits of sludge, doom, speed metal, crossover, and Sabbath as well, showing that Mentor are children of metal in general, and not of one genre.
At 28 minutes for ten songs, none of them overstay their welcome and some of them are really brief and to the point (see the “hardcore riffing/crossover mosh part” one-two that is Tub of Toxic Waste). This quick pacing fits the dynamic, mostly uptempo nature of the material nicely.
Most of the songs show great use of both tempo change and genre shift, each track a fresh demonstration of what this band is about and what they’re capable of, from the midpaced-thrash/blitzkrieg-speed-metal assault of Churchburner Girl, tempered by contrasting downtempo lead breaks, to the thrash-verse/hardcore-chorus dichotomy of We Dig, complete with a Sabbathy tempo break that winds into a CoC-ish final verse and outro. And the perfect closer: Gather by the Grave is a potentially lethal Sabbath-channeling crusher; if this song does not wreck your neck, I don’t know what to tell ya’.
Mentor generally takes the dual-voice approach; vocals alternate between a crossoverish, rough/raspy pissed-off shout and a higher-register, blackish, sneery spoken/spit approach. Bits of sung vocals are used to nice effect on The Wax Nightmare, and the vocals in the aforementioned Gather by the Grave are sung using decidedly Sabbath-inspired phrasing. Vocalist King of Nothing uses them all effectively and handles them all with equal aplomb.
The production is suitably gritty and blackened but not extreme— think Toxic Holocaust or Midnight; the guitar tone in particular is a dead-ringer for mid-era Toxic Holocaust. The drums could be a bit bigger, otherwise the production is about optimal for the material.
There are a number of “multi-hybrid” bands that combine more than two distinct genres; Mentor put on a clinic in doing it right. The result is completely natural-feeling, not forced or labored, and is 100% effective.
Standout tracks: Gather by the Grave, Churchburner Girl, Mists of Doom, Gut Bucket.