Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mekong Delta - The Gnome EP (1988)

One of the more curious and unique entries into the German thrash/speed field, Mekong Delta would one day be known for their picaresque, manic landscapes and classical conversions. As of The Gnome EP, their first release past the self-titled debut album, they were already showing their love of composers, through "The Gnome" itself, a cover of Mussorgski which has been converted here to an exercise between the guitars and drums. As cool as it is to hear classical music transformed into something heavier, there's unfortunately just not much to this, but a basic interpretation, and clearly nothing special enough to warrant an EP release in its name, even if it's largely a picture disc collector's item.

Granted, it's not alone on this release, but the rest of the tracks are taken from their debut. "The Hut of Baba Yaga" is a splendid, atmospheric, moody instrumental which cycles through spurts of primitive thrash and segues of ambient weirdness. "Without Honor" is a 'raging' piece, with Wolfgang's vocals awfully similar to Peavy Wagner (who wrote the lyrics), but the band provoke a darker reach, like a more atmospheric alternative to something from Execution Guaranteed. "The Cure" is of course another scorcher, and I've always loved how the frightening intro collapsed into the higher pitched vocals and frenetic, clinical riffing, but once again, it's just something we've already heard, and there's no need in buying it twice.

This is such a rarity that it's highly unlikely anyone out there is in danger of being ripped off, but for the hardened collector who won't mind. It doesn't serve as much of a bridge to The Music of Eric Zahn, so it's more of a 'look back' than forward. "The Gnome" is available on the Classics compilation, which in of itself is not a major value, but the inclusion of a batch of the band's spins on composers makes its a superior product, and thus the EP is rendered almost completely worthless. Skip it and head straight for The Music of Eric Zahn, or dial back and appreciate the debut.

Verdict: Fail [2.5/10]

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