A Brief Mortification History
Mortification's beginnings were in the Australian Classic Metal band Lightforce in the late eighties. Together with Lightforce Steve recorded two albums. When Lightforce broke up in 1989 Steve decided to take the band in a heavier direction, with more thrash influences. Steve now also began to handle the vocals as well as playing bass. Together with Jayson Sherlock on drums and Cameron Hall on guitars Steve recorded a demo called "Break The Curse" under the name Lightforce. By the end of 1990 the band decided to change their name to Mortification to better suit the new sound and direction. "Break the Curse" was remixed years later and released by Nuclear Blast Germany with a bonus cut called "Butchered Mutilation." that originally appeared on a Nuclear Blast compilation disc. (see discography for more info)
In 1991 Mortification signed a record contract to the American christian label Intense Records which is a label under Frontline Records. By this time guitarist Micheal Carlisle had joined the band after the departure of Cameron Hall. The disc was produced by one of Steve Rowe's favorite band's frontmen, Roger Martinez of Vengeance Rising. The self titled album was released with two different covers; one for the "Christian market" with a simple green logo, and a more intense "secular" cover with an intense painting of a lake of fire. Both covers were designed by drummer Jayson Sherlock, as was the next CD, "Scrolls of the Megilloth."
Mortification (Intense Records)
Mortification (the "tame" cover)
In 1992 Mortification signed a distribution deal with the big German lable Nuclear Blast and released their second album "Scrolls Of The Megilloth" both on Intense Records and on Nuclear Blast. With "Scrolls," Mortification changed their style into a more Death Metal/Grindcore sound. This proved to be a good move, as death and grind were very popular and Mortification's popularity exploded. Unfortunately, this move also painted Mortification into a box, as all future albums were now compared to this death metal masterpeice.
1993 Steve Rowe decided to develop their sound a little bit more and return back to the thrash and power metal stylings that he loved so much. The result was the incredible "Post Momentary Affliction" that was released, again, with two different covers. Nuclear Blast and Intense each released their own covers. The Intense version, again, featured artwork by drummer Jayson Sherlock. A video documentary was also released by the band independantly.
Post Momentary Affliction (Intense Records (Left)/ Nuclear Blast (Right))
1993 A live CD and video entitled "Live Planetarium" were released by Intense Records. This live disc featured killer renditions of songs from all the past CD's, a glimpse of the next CD in "Symbiosis," a Bloodgood cover, and a little gem that was never released as a studio version on any Mortification album called "Time Crusaders." This would also be the last time drummer Jayson Sherlock would perform with the band. An interesting note is that current drummer Keith Bannister can be seen in one of the photos as he was one of thier roadies at the time.
1994 In comes new drummer Phil Gibson, who would only be with the band for this one album. Phil soon departed the band because he could not fulfill the bands extensive touring schedule. This was also the same year the Steve Rowe started his now successful Rowe Productions record label. "Blood World," despite the fact that it was one of Mortification's best selling albums in the US, was a shock to many long time fans as they added a bit of a hardcore sound to their thrash sound. Also, Steve Rowe began to shout as opposed to the deathly growl that fans were use to.
1995 Steve Rowe is without a drummer and long time guitarist Michael Carlisle decides to leave as well because of the intense touring schedule. Steve Rowe decided to do a massive US and Canada tour to support "Blood World" with temporary members who end up recording the next album with him. "Primitive Rhythm Machine" was the first Mortification album to be recorded in the USA. Long time friend and former Deliverance/Vengeance Rising guitarist George Ochoa produced the album and played most of the leads. This CD saw the return of Mortification to their metal and thrash roots. Much of the disc took on a Sepultura sound, although the production was very raw and "primitive." A note of interest is that ex-Recon vocalist did a guest vocals spot on the song" ". This disc also featured CD cover art by artist Troy Dunmire, who would do the next three studio discs for Mortification in coming years.
1996 Steve Rowe returns to Australia and starts his search for a new drummer and guitarist. The drum position was filled by long time roadie, Keith Bannister, who had become a Christian during the first Mortification tour back in 1990. The guitar position was filled by shredder Lincoln Bowen.
The result was one of the best Mortification albums to ever be released, "EnVision EvAngeline." This disc mixed elements of classic metal bands like Manowar and Iron Maiden with the German thrash sounds of bands like Kreator. The first cut was an epic 15 minute song that was obviously influence by Manowar. Once again, the artwork was done by Troy Dunmire.
Also released this year was a novel by Steve Rowe titled "Minstrel." A good read and a collectors item now.
The next year would see Mortification going through some unbelievable tradgedies. Steve Rowe, contracted a disease that would drag him down for the next year and a half. Accute Lymphatic Leuikimia!!!! Sounds terrible and it was. Steve almost died several times, but through MUCH prayer and a strong will to live to see his vision for his family, band, and label fulfilled Steve managed to make it through. This was despite doctors who had given him only hours to live and a seemingly failed bone marrow transplant.
Soon after his miraculous recovery, Mortification recorded and released Triumph of Mercy, which was released by Rowe Productions in the US and Nuclear Blast Germany in Europe.. This disc centered around what Steve and the band had gone through over the two years previous. The production, done by Mortification, was not up to par with EnVision, but sounded beautiful to my ears, nonetheless. Again, heavily Manowar influenced but still unmistakably Mortification. A few months after it's release, Mortification signed with Metal Blade for US distribution. Truimph of Mercy was released in the US market for a second time through Metal Blade.
Tradgedy again struck as Mortification prepared to tour the US. Being in incredible pain, Steve had been on Morphine for several months. When he decided to quit cold turkey, he went into a coma and again almost died several times. Once again God healed Steve and a month before the US tour, Steve was able to walk with the help of a cain. The US tour featured mostly new material, as it took quite a bit of practive for Steve to even remember the newer material. He sat down between songs and gave long testimonies of what he had gone through. My band was priveledged to open for Mortification on one of these dates. There are quite a few bootlegs of this show floating around.
1999 saw the release of "Hammer of God" which was released by both Metal Blade and Nuclear Blast... 2000 saw the release of yet another Live disc and the loss of Keith Bannister on drums. However, a new drummer has already been anounced on the Rowe site. . .
...and the Metal Crusade goes on.