In a post a few weeks back, I reported, in detail, about Tankard. The Germans are one of the most underrated bands in Metal. In the same vein, Mortal Sin never got the recognition they deserved. Most things from Australia are pretty shitty and gay, like kangaroos, koalas, INXS and Olivia Newton-John. But not these Aussies!
When we were a kids, my brother and I were limited musically to whatever records made it to South America's stores and whatever dubbed tapes we got from friends, who'd gotten them from their friends. Well, in a trip to the record store in the mall in '89 or so, we saw a Face of Despair record in the Rock section. At first I thought the band might be some shitty Christian rock, but when I turned the record around I realized these guys meant business. Metal business. White high-tops, ripped frosted denim jeans, sleeveless "Shut-up and Skate" T-shirt and Suicidal Tendencies-like bandanas? Damn, the temptation was too much. We bought the LP and played it as soon as we got home. We were not disappointed.
"Face of Despair" quickly became one of our favorite records. We never really got the cover, with the girl and the "SEX" neon sign and a syringe and the crucifix... I guess they were trying to make a deep point about girls and sex and health care in Australia. Whichever way, the music spoke for itself. The first song on side B, "Innocent Torture" opens with a rad sample of a judge sentencing someone to death. From there Mortal Sin rip a fucking awesome tune with awesome riffs that would make Tenacious D proud. The production on the record is not super clean and the guitar sound is a little whiney, but the that song is still one of my favorite thrash tracks of all time. The other tune in here that is bad-ass is "I Am Immortal". Here's a video from some TV show in the 1989. It might be in Australia, but I thought they only got electricity there in the late 90's...
So, here we were, in love with a band we knew nothing about and wanting more. We didn't even know where they were from. We'd have settled for any info at all, but what we had coming was more than we expected. Enter: the Peña Twins.
If it wasn't for Mortal Sin, the Peña Twins wouldn't be mentioned at all in our memoirs. The Twins used to ride bus #1 from school with us and got off on 140th Street, just below 7th Avenue. They were pretty annoying kids and were always getting in trouble, so my brother and I ignored them through the school year. That was only until one day, when one of them (the one with braces) asked me if I'd ever heard of Mortal Sin. "Fuck!", I thought, "how does this little shit know about OUR band?" Mortal Sin wasn't a band people were allowed to listen to without getting permission from us. After all, we'd discovered them. How did Peña Twin #1 know about them? How did he know anything about metal at all? Sure he wore high-tops and had a skater cut with a rat-tail, but he was far from being metal. They knew who Black Sabbath was and maybe even Metallica, but that was about it. My friends and I had a list of ALL metalheads in the school and the Peña Twins were NOT in it. I was shocked. Hiding my outrage, I told them I knew who they were. He then told me he had one of their records. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, this POSER has a Mortal Sin record?" Well, he probably bought it by mistake in the same record store we bought ours, I thought. "I can't remember what it's called, but the cover has a demon eating buildings" - "You must be mistaken, dude. That's not a demon, it's a little girl. And she's not eating shit, she's scared as hell!" He told me I was crazy and he'd bring the record to school the next day.
"Fuck my ass!" or something like that, is what I thought the next day when I saw one of the Peña Twins holding "Mayhemic Destruction." I don't even know if it was the same Twin, but at that point I was more concerned with being one-uped by certified posers than analyzing the differences between these 2 genetic mutant freaks. My brother and I looked at each other in horror. We were both thinking the same thing: "Don't look surprised, we can't let them think they know more than we do." But they did. They had a Mortal Sin record we didn't! It was too much to bare, we had to compromise our metal integrity to listen to this record. I broke down and asked him to borrow it. "We already have it on tape, at home, of course" I lied, "but the tape is really old and you can hardly hear it."
Wow! The sound was much rawer than I had expected. I realized while listening to it that it was their first record. It wasn't as Meliah Rage-ish as "Face...", it reminded me more of "Kill 'Em All" or "Ride The Lightning" Pretty goddam metal whatever it reminded me off. I made a tape of the record and returned it to the fucking Peña Twins. Fuck'em. Here's my favorite tune from that album, "Women In Leather".