Picture of Mordred

Fool's Game

Mordred - Fool's Game ©1989 Noise Int.
1. State Of Mind
2. Spectacle Of Fear
3. Every Day's A Holiday
4. Spellbound
5. Sever And Splice
6. The Artist
7. Shatter
8. Reckless Abandon
9. Super Freak
10. Numb

Mordred was part of the famous Bay Area Thrash scene of the 80s, but they were one of the more indecisive ones regarding exactly how they wanted to approach their career. As the thrash thing was really catching on, there was also the short-lived "funk-metal" craze that lasted all of a minute. However, certain bands felt the need to hop onto that particular stylistic train and Mordred was half-heartedly one of them. As a result, they never quite gelled with either half of the equation and fell through the cracks like so many thin men on a broken wooden bridge.

Fool's Game, the band's debut, was mostly a thrash based album with two exceptions: the funky "Every Day's a Holiday" and a cover of Rick James' "Superfreak", which was quite amusing in all regards. The rest of the album comes across as a standard release for a band influenced by thrash. Mordred was nowhere near as violent as Exodus or blazing fast like Slayer on Reign In Blood. They stuck more to mid tempo pacing and thick riffs with relatively melodic vocals from Scott Holderby (who occasionally sounded out of place). The biggest problem the band faces on Fool's Game is that these songs really aren't anything special. By 1989, when this album was released, the market was already flooded with tons of thrash bands doing relatively similar things and Mordred, funk leanings aside, did little to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Fool's Game is not a record one can hate with passion, but the passion doesn't flow to the other side of the fence either.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2003

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In This Life

Mordred - In This Life ©1991 Noise Int.
1. In This Life
2. The Strain
3. High Potency
4. Window
5. Esse Quam Videri
6. A Beginning
7. Falling Away
8. Killing Time
9. Downtown
10. Progress
11. Larger Than Life

For their second album, Mordred decided to jump a bit further onto the short lived "funk metal" craze that briefly tried to rear its ugly head in the early 90s. The band took the initiative of adding a fulltime "record scratcher" and occasional lead vocalist for In This Life, but for the most part, Mordred was far too timid to fully embrace crossing over to a complete thrash/funk hybrid.

Slap bass licks notwithstanding, In This Life is a watered down, meek thrash record that relies far too much on the novelty of a turntable to sustain interest. As a thrash band, Mordred didn't exactly stand out and this mild mixing of styles doesn't propel them to the forefront either. Singer Scott Holderby wasn't blessed with a ragingly powerful voice and sounds quite out of place in pseudo-rap moments, particularly on the album opening title track. Aaron Vaughn, the band's sixth member, has brief moments of frenzied rap but it is used so sparingly that it comes across as a gimmick. The third main problem with this CD is that the songwriting isn't particularly stellar. With the exception of "Falling Away", none of these songs stand out and inserting scratched records and funky sounding guitar riffs simply don't things up. Although rap and metal cultures would eventually meld with the commercially successful "nu-metal" acts of the late 90s, very few of the initial attempts at funk-metal were worth listening to. One could easily skip In This Life to find the first Infectious Grooves CD, which is by far the only truly necessary funk-metal album of the era.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2003

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The Next Room

Mordred - The Next Room ©1994 Noise
1. Lo-Cal, Hi-Fiber
2. Skid
3. Crash
4. Splinter Down
5. Shut
6. Pauper's Wine
7. Acrophobia
8. Murray The Mover
9. In A Turn
10. The Trellis
11. The Next Room Over
12. Rubber Crutch

By 1994, Mordred was firmly mired in the muck of pure obscurity. Their roots in the Bay Area thrash scene as well as their nascent attempts at "funk-metal" (a fad that fortunately died a relatively quick death) were well behind them in a field of grunge artists and alternative rockers. Yet Mordred stuck around at least long enough to release one final studio album called The Next Room. Longtime vocalist Scott Holderby had been replaced by a considerably better singer in Paul Kimball. And more importantly, the band quit trying to be both a thrash band and a funk band and simply found a style that highlighted the best features of both. And as a result, The Next Room was by far Mordred's best album.

Of course, in the spirit of fairness, it's not like Mordred had set the bar very high with their previous releases.

The samples and hip-hop effects Aaron "Pause" Vaughn added were fairly subtle, while bassist Art Liboon often got a chance to show off his impressive slap stylings. But the most noticeable improvement from previous albums was the fact the songs were often memorable, creative and interesting. Although a few tunes on The Next Room are somewhat bland and unengaging, the album tends to lean towards the good side more often than not. New singer Paul Kimball's voice is gritty but melodic (and thankfully avoided some of the tough guy shouting that was starting to show up in metal at the time). The good songs on the album (particularly "In a Turn") offer solid dynamics and arrangements. For the most part, The Next Room is entertaining and certainly holds up better than Mordred's other albums.

Although Incubus would come along and find fame based on a kid friendly formula not terribly far from the territory Mordred occupied, Mordred splintered sometime after this release. However, it should be noted that this album has the potential for a lot of folks to become a forgotten gem. No doubt it would be in the cheapo bin at most used stores, offering someone an inexpensive, but generally enjoyable release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2008

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