Mark Morton – Ether (2020)

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Last year, Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton released his debut solo album, Anaesthetic, and it was a great album, full of heavy riffs and some tremendous guests.

2020 sees his next release, and it’s somewhat surprisingly an acoustic EP.  The guest vocalists remain, but the songs are a lot more stripped back than on the previous album.

It’s good though… Really good.

The opening track, “All I Had to Lose”, features Sons of Texas vocalist Mark Morales, for a gentle number that hovers between folk rock and outlaw country.  Morales is an exceptional vocalist, but the song is completely driven by Morton’s acoustic picking, and the stunning string arrangements.

“The Fight” has Moon Tooth’s John Carbine take over vocal duties.  I get some huge Sevendust vibes from this track, particularly when the immense chorus comes in during the middle of the song.  This has huge radio potential thanks to its catchy hooks, great vocals and of course, Morton’s stellar guitar work.

With their recent reformation, a cover of The Black Crowes “She Talks to Angels” seems timely.  Taking a classic song and doing it any justice at all is hard, but with some wonderfully understated guitar and the inclusion of Lzzy Hale on vocals makes this track an absolute winner.  I’m not the biggest fan of Halestorm, but nobody can deny the power and talent of Lzzy’s vocals.

“Love My Enemy” is fantastic.  It is the most “plugged in” track of this EP, but there is so much going on that it’s hard to ignore.  Howard Jones from Light the Torch delivers some excellent and unique sounding vocals – gentle and soothing, but powerful in the choruses.  This one really shows of Morton’s guitar chops too – listen as he switches between acoustic picking and strumming, and full blown riff territory.  It’s brilliant.

Mark Morales returns to vocal duties for the EP closer, a cover of Pearl Jams “Black”.  This is easily recognisable as the Pearl Jam Classic, but the two Marks put their own spin on it, and the results are remarkable.  This is a fantastic way to end the EP.

In some cases, an album or EP full of guest vocalists can overshadow the songs themselves.  Not here though.  The songs are the focus, and everybody does their part to make those tunes shine.

Brilliant stuff.

9/10

Shayne McGowan.

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