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MORTAL SIN – Take It To The Top
Bernard Doe
Metal Forces, Issue 22 (1987)

Mortal Sin (l-r): Paul Carwana, Andy Eftichiou, Wayne Campbell, Mat Maurer and Keith Krstin

Every once in a while, a band literally appears out of nowhere and grabs your attention in a big way. Mortal Sin are one such band. I received an advance tape of their Mayhemic Destruction album in December of last year, and even after just one hearing it was apparent that this young band from Australia had a bright future ahead of them. The first thing that struck me about Mortal Sin was their strong similarity to Metallica; not that they should be dismissed as mere clones, because their songwriting and musicianship is so good. In fact, if Mayhemic Destruction had been released a year earlier it could easily have passed for Metallica’s follow-up to Ride The Lightning – it really is that good. Anyway, a review of the album can be found in our reviews section. The object of this feature is to find out more about these metal sinners from the other side of the world.

The history of Mortal Sin starts back in January 1985, when guitarist Keith Krstin and drummer Wayne Campbell left their previous band Wizzard because they were looking for something more heavier. They quickly hooked up with vocalist Mat Maurer, who ironically had auditioned for Wizzard a few months previously and failed to get the job! A few bass players and second guitarists came and went before the band settled with Andy Eftichiou (bass) and Paul Carwana (guitar), who both joined from local metallists Judge. This present line-up has been together since July 1985.

The band readily admit to drawing influences from all of the top underground thrash and power metal bands such as Dark Angel, Slayer, Possessed, Kreator and of course Metallica. But Mortal Sin are also very keen on making a name for themselves in the near future. That is why they decided to release their debut album on their own label, Mega Metal Productions, and plan on undertaking a self-financed world tour to promote themselves, which is a fairly ambitious move to say the lease, especially as they’re currently without management.

I recently spoke to three members of the band; vocalist Mat Maurer, guitarist Keith Krstin and drummer Wayne Campbell. I began by asking them why they decided to record an album by themselves before going through the usual process of recording a demo and then shopping it around the record companies and underground press?

Keith: “Well, we did first record a three-track demo that cost us $240.00 (Australian dollars), but we were very disappointed with it once the guy had mixed it. This guy then let us record the songs again free of charge, but this time they came out even worse! So I began looking for a bigger studio so that we could get a better sound and eventually found Studios 301 – EMI. We originally intended on recording a demo to send overseas to the record companies, but finally decided to record eight songs and release the album.”

Mat: “A lot of bands just sit around in Sydney for five years and then decide to do something, but we thought, well we’ve got the songs so why not jump straight in and record an album. We didn’t have much of a budget, but we got a good sound so that’s what we decided to do. We went into the studio in June ’86 and recorded the album over three days. We’re not totally happy with the production, if we’d had more money we would have liked to have spent a couple of weeks in the studio and then it would have been heaps better.”

The first thing that struck me about the album when I played it was how much you sounded like Metallica; even your vocals Mat are very similar to James Hetfield. How do you feel about these comparisons? Mat: “Well when we were actually recording the album we didn’t set out to sound like Metallica. Okay, we all love that band, but we were hoping to come up with our own style and I really do think we are creating our own sound, especially with our newer songs. Our newer stuff is more along the lines of ‘Lebanon’ and ‘Mayhemic Destruction’ where it’s fairly technical and more powerful.”

Once the album becomes widely available, it’s almost inevitable that the music press are going to label you Metallica clones. Will that bother you? Mat: “No, not at all. To us Metallica are the greatest band in the world, so we’ll look at it as more of a compliment I suppose.”

But don’t you think that it may be a tag that you will find hard to shake off, thereby it becomes a hindrance to your careers? Mat: “No, I think it will probably help us more than anything. Metallica are a big band and if the kids read in interviews that Mortal Sin are being compared to Metallica then hopefully it will persuade them to go and try us out. Also, the fact that we come from Australia might interest a lot of people too.”

What is the Australian metal scene like at the moment? Mat: “Well it’s starting to get really big right now. You’ve got bands like Slaughter Lord, Total Death and Death Mission, and these are all young bands, and because we’re all sticking together – playing gigs together – the scene is gradually building up really big. Thrash in particular is very popular and it seems that all the old Ramones and punk fans are coming back to life and they’re coming to our gigs, which is great. Bands are springing up everywhere and I guess it’s a lot like it was in America a couple of years ago. It’s just that we’re a little bit behind the times.”

Do you play many gigs? Mat: “In a good month we’ll probably play about three gigs. That’s not many, but that’s because there’s not many venues to play.”

Wayne: “We have to do everything in circles with every other band. When we play gigs here in Australia, the largest crowds we get is something like 800 people. Well now we want to play to bigger audiences, so that’s why we’re planning on touring abroad.”

How difficult is it for a metal band to break out of Australia and make a name for themselves abroad? Wayne: “Well if you want to get somewhere you’ve got to push yourself and that’s why I think we’re starting to get noticed. Whereas a lot of these bands in Sydney just sit around and wait for something to happen for them. But now that thrash is becoming more and more popular, bands are starting to push themselves out.”

You already have plans to tour America, Europe and Japan. Isn’t that a bit over ambitious for a band without an overseas record deal? Mat: “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do and really it’s the only way to make it. Overseas is where the metal scene is really happening and if you want to be part of it you’ve got to go there. Look at AC/DC, they stayed in Australia for three or four years and got nowhere, but as soon as they went overseas they made it and are now huge.”

So can Mortal Sin become huge? Well you can be sure that the band will be giving it their best shot. And I for one believe they have the potential to go a long way. Record label interest has already been shown and indeed contracts have already been offered, but for the moment Mortal Sin are keeping their options open and as yet no deal has been agreed.

By the time you read this, Mayhemic Destruction will be out in Australia on the bands own label, Mega Metal Productions. The initial pressing of 2,000 copies is expected to sell out very quickly, so if you want to get hold of an original copy of the album – sure to become a collector’s item in years to come – you’d better contact the band fast. Mayhemic Destruction should receive domestic release in all the main foreign metal territories once the band have secured a worldwide deal.

Needless to say, Metal Forces will be following Mortal Sin’s rise to fame with great interest and I strongly advise fans of all good power metal to make sure that you’re in there at the beginning too.

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 22 (1987)

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