MEKONG DELTA - Lurking Fear

Mekong Delta - Lurking Fear

10 songs
49:19 minutes
***** *****


I fondly remember the day when I first discovered Mekong Delta. The year was 1987, I was only fifteen years old, and to that day I thought that heavy metal was only Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and their derivatives. Then I heard Mekong Delta, playing an extreme kind of speed metal with otherworldly time signatures and unexpected breaks, and I knew that was what would become my new favourite genre: techno thrash. For a time, there were a lot of newcomers trying their luck, but apart from WatchTower who fell silent after two albums and Sieges Even who quickly turned to progressive metal, a style made popular by Dream Theater at more or less the same moment, Mekong Delta were the unquestioned kings of techno thrash, and they released a couple of excellent albums. During their first three albums, they kept their identities secret, which created a mystic aura around the band. Only in 1990, their names were revealed, and their release schedule became lazier, with only two more stuido albums (with self-penned material) released in the Nineties.

Now it’s been thirteen years since their last album of original material, and this time that should count as a lucky number. I wasn’t expecting much, really. Still waiting for a WatchTower comeback, and not too excited about the good but not spectacular resurgence of Sieges Even, what could come from Mekong Delta. Especially since bassist Ralph Hubert is not only the only original member left, but even the only one from their last studio album. But you’d be surprised how one person can define the sound of a band. New singer Leo Szpigiel (Scanner) sounds a lot like former Mekong Delta vocalist Doug Lee (Siren), drummer Uli Kusch is one of the most sought after German musicians, but the best job is done by the new guitarist Peter Lake from the Swedish prog death band Theory In Practice, who manages to maintain the typical Mekong Delta sound and elevate it to an even higher level. Incredible what this man accomplished on the album.

Among the ten songs are an interpretation of a Shostakovich piece (Allegro), two classical numbers penned my Ralph Hubert that don't pale next to the Russian master (and which are parts of a greater cycle that the Mekong Delta band leader has been working on over the years). These excursions into that kind of music are a typical trademark from Mekong Delta who in the past already released a compilation album of all their classical cover versions. The remaining seven songs are prime cuts that couldn’t be any better. With Ratters they even have something like a techno thrash hit, although it is still light years away from commercial radio airplay. The remaining material is ultra-complex, but the band always manages to stay within their self-defined techno thrash genre, which is great as so many other bands try to adhere to a more popular genre just to sell more albums.

I can’t expect that out there you can find any long time Mekong Delta fan who will be disappointed by Lurking Fear. Musically it is much closer to what they have done since Dances Of Death (their prior LPs being more accessible and slightly less technical), but considering how they don’t fall into mile-long classical structures (as on Visions Fugitives), Lurking Fear can easily be considered one of their best, maybe even their best, album to date. Which is so much more surprising, considering that they have been gone for more than a dozen years. Forget about Dream Theater and all those other wimped out prog metal band. Mekong Delta are back to show how what techno thrash is really all about. This is the comeback of the year!

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