Wanderer On The Edge Of Time
Released: 2010, Aaarrg REcords
I can’t believe my own eyes! There is not one review for Mekong Delta on this site…until now. I’m surprised no one has taken the opportunity to talk about this legendary band. Well the time is here as Mekong Delta have just released their 10th album, WANDERER ON THE EDGE OF TIME. 10 albums is quite a milestone for any band so a little history is in order.
Founded back in 1985 this German act has seen multiple, highly talented past, present and future members of other high profile bands pass through her ranks; Rage, Helloween, Annihhilator, Krokus, Running Wild, many, many more. Mainstay Ralf Hubert, the bassist, recently resurrected the band after a 10-year gap between the 8th and 9th albums (1997 and 2007 respectively). The band is one of the true innovators at mixing classical music and Metal. Many bands have done this over the years dating back to Deep Purple in the early 70’s but Mekong Delta has become synonymous with pioneering the technical thrash meets classical style.
Back at home on Aaarrg Records, the band truly epitomizes the term progressive. Having moved away from the more thrash oriented affairs of earlier in their career WANDERER AT THE EDGE OF TIME still very much follows the construct of a classical compositions. There is an intro, an overture, five interludes and a finale, as well as the bulk of the songs being 7 movements. It’s a decent package with the familiar skeletal, violin-playing mascot on the front cover art.
Album number 10 is an excellent piece of music and should be judged as such, rather than a collection of songs, it is a unified composition with a variation in tone, tempo, ebb and flow. I could easily see this being just one ‘song’ per se and probably the listener should dedicate the 45 minutes to appreciate it’s scope and complexity.
As mentioned many bands have tried blending classical and Metal with mixed results, but Hubert writes the song fully integrated the styles, not just mushing them together. Accordingly some pure Metal fans may not appreciate the sound of the album, as the straight ahead ‘Metal’ component is ever-so-slightly watered down. Songs like ‘The Fifth Element’ and ‘The Apocalypt’ are full-on metal, progressive thrash with time changes and driving rhythms with the clean clear vocals of Martin LeMar (vocalist #5) and lots of blazing solos courtesy of the guitar team. There is lots of symphonic instrumentation, acoustic guitar, delicate passages and Hubert's own distinct bass sound.
Mekong Delta are one of the truly unique and unsung heroes of the Metal world. For more information, check out Jeff Wagner’s recent book MEAN DEVIATION (which I reviewed this month, December 2010) as he gives the band their full credit in his history of Progressive Metal. Until then, the new album is as good a place as any to start enjoying Mekong Delta. If you are a long time fan like me, then you will not be disappointed.