Mark Morton is the lead guitar player for one of my favorite metal bands, Lamb of God. When I found out a few months ago he was releasing a solo album, Anesthetic via Spinefarm Records out March 1, 2019, it piqued my interest (to say the least). Morton is one of the most talented guitar players in the world. He is technically amazing and just has a signature sound. Whenever guitarists release solo albums it’s usually a cool venture, loaded with guest appearances and giving that “super band” feeling without the permanence or breaking up the other bands.
The record’s first single and closing track, “The Truth is Dead,” features Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Alissa White-Gluz (Arch-Enemy). The song is well done and begins with an amazing dual vocal that creates a haunting dissonance. From there, the song explodes with feverish riffs and aggressive heavy vocals from both singers.
The track drawing much attention, “Cross Off” is the last known recording from Chester Bennington before his 2017 death. This song is the heaviest we’ve heard from Bennington in years and I am blown away by how amazing the vocals are. The heavy screams and the clean vocals are equally chilling. Before his death, Bennington spent a lot of time fighting critics claiming he had “sold out” and started making pop music. The track is almost eerie in its heavy, aggressive nature with one of the best guitar solos on the record.
Even without the emotional connection Bennington’s feature brings, the album is full of star power and is a well-rounded solo release. One track that stands out is “Save Defiance” that features Myles Kennedy (Alterbridge, Slash feat. Myles Kennedy, and the Conspirators). I’ve long said that Kennedy took the torch from Chris Cornell as the best voice in rock and he kills it on this appearance. The song features an incredibly catchy hook with a guitar solo over the last chorus that is subtle, but technically sound.
Another standout track is “Sworn Apart” featuring Jacoby Shaddix. At this point in his career, everything Shaddix touches is gold. He’s been lending vocals to a lot of bands lately, and his appearance on this album doesn’t disappoint.
Anesthetic also has some unique departures from what we’ve come to know and love from Morton. “Reveal,” featuring Naeemah Maddox, is a soulful, almost jazzy track. The song is one of the most shocking, yet musically awe-inspiring moments of the record.
While the album has a ton of star power, the lasting impression is likely to be the inclusion of Bennington’s last work, and rightfully so. “Cross Off” rocks so much; but, don’t let that overshadow the credibility of this release as a whole. Anesthetic is a powerful record from cover to cover. The musicianship on display is unmatched and argues why Morton is one of the best in the game. March 1 is a huge day for new music releases, but make sure to give this one a spin this weekend!