Friday, May 30, 2008

Underrated Masters: Mortal Sin

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.

Originally released in '86 with the cover on the left and re-issued in '87 with the cover on the right.

"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".

It wasn't until 12 years later that I would finally own a copy of "Mayhemic (is that even a real word?) Destruction" I got a really nice Japanese pressing that I paid entirely too much money for. I also scored a 12" single called "Voyage Of The Disturbed" that the sold on tour in the US in '89.

My Mortal Sin vinyl collection today. The Peña Twins ain't got shit on me anymore!

So, I guess after "Face..." the Australians went the way of kangaroo shit. The have re-formed again and again, but it's not the same. One of the dudes put out a record in '91 under the name Mortal Sin and got sued quick-like. What a douche.

What a gay cover. No wonder he got sued.

A new record came out in '07, but the new line up is pretty pathetic and a few of them have advanced cases of Robb Flynn's Disease. It's very sad. See for yourself. The video starts off with no audio, but give it a second.

Anyway, here's to another underrated band that made the days of my youth worth living. Cheers, mates!


  1. Another masterpiece. It always bugged me that the bass was mixed too high on their record. The video of "i am immortal" has the same issue. that aside, how rad is the guy in the last picture who is all the way to the left...check him out flexing! yeah!

  2. Thank you for enlightening me to these Aussie Metal Masters! Upon viewing "Women in leather" for the third time, I passed out... When I woke up, my t-shirt was tucked into my stone-washed jeans and the sleeves were cut off. Weird.

  3. The bass player was the one who made the third record himself, and got sued. No wonder he was high in the mix...kind of bandleader, I guess. It's cool, because bass players were always the weirdest, dumbest, useless band members, especially in thrash metal. That's an exception.
    However, I remember Mortal Sin just because they are close to my band in the Encyclopaedia Metallum.
    Certainly, I like Koalas, Kangaroos & Funnel Webs (just in photo) more than Mortal Sin.

  4. most bass player can be replaced with relatively well-trained monkeys.

  5. I had a flexi that Aussie metal mag Hot Metal band put out that featured three Mortal Sin songs . I am Immortal was one of them and the standout song. New Zealand band Shihad were around the same time and also had a Metallica like song with the lyrics "I am It" but the Shihad drummer claimed they wrote It before Face of Despear came out. S

  6. Hot metal band should be magazine

  7. I really like your style of writing, should seriously consider doing a book or a documentary. so far the stuff I've read is even more interesting that Ian Christe's book. But maybe that's cuz I can relate more to the same experiences you've had. Mayhemic Destruction is a classic album indeed.

  8. an interesting fact about mayhemic destruction is that the cover of the re-release from 87 was done by no other than comic book artist simon ´the biz´ bisley, known and loved for his artwork for judge dredd, slaine, and the original lobo, 3 series that ooze metal credibility.

  9. The drummer (Steve Hughes) in the "I am immortal" video is now a comedian in the UK circuit. Hes not bad at all...nice guy too and still loves his metal.