Time should probably have been a lot kinder to MORDRED. Years ahead of their time, the San Francisco thrash crew were mixing balls-out funk and scratching skills into their crossover sound in the late '80s. Although nominally part of the "funk metal" movement that coalesced around RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS and FAITH NO MORE, MORDRED were always a killer thrash band first and foremost, and their 1991 album "In This Life" remains an unsung gem from the arse-end of thrash metal's first wave. Abruptly disbanding after third album "The Next Room" (1994) they could easily have become a minor footnote, were it not for the obvious fact that the metal world eventually came around to the MORDRED way of thinking, as the cross-pollinating '90s rumbled on.
Several reunions later and "The Dark Parade" arrives sounding like the work of the exact same band that made "In This Life" (and it is, drummer Jeff Gomes aside), but sonically upgraded to deliver the required nose-flattening slap that modern ears demand. More importantly, despite barely changing their formula, MORDRED sound weirdly current here; their trademark blend of nails-hard thrash, funk swagger and scattershot hip-hop trimmings sounding as fresh as ever.
Opener and preview single "Demonic #7" confirms that all is well, and MORDRED are still masters of serrated-edge party vibes. Similarly, "Malignancy" rolls back the years to the crossover bombing raids of early anthems like "State of Mind" and "The Strain", but with extra muscle and even more groove. A deeper, darker thrash tirade, "I Am Charlie" pitches vocalist Scott Holderby's one-raised-eyebrow sermonizing against some churning, yob-core riffing; while "Dragging For Bodies" cranks up the metal power and fires up Aaron Vaughn's spinning turntables and symphonic synths, for a sprawling, dark rock odyssey.
The second half sustains the quality. The title track is another gently progressive riff marathon; "All Eyes on the Prize" is a brutish but uplifting exercise in old-school heavy metal euphoria; "Dented Lives" grinds and rattles like a turbocharged BAD BRAINS with a hard-on for thrash purity; "Smash Goes The Bottle" is a strident, eccentric closer that neatly encapsulates MORDRED's anarchic edge while still delivering a serious metal payload and several deft and dazzling changes of pace and tone.
Of course, all of this may mean absolutely nothing unless you have a secret stash of SCATTERBRAIN and PSYCHEFUNKAPUS CDs. But 27 years after their last studio album, MORDRED are firmly in touch with everything that made them great in the first place, and "The Dark Parade" is the stupidly enjoyable proof.