Mortification - Biography



Mortification is a Christian metal band from Australia. Founded in 1990 out of the 1980s metal band Lightforce by Steve Rowe, Cameron Hall and Jayson Sherlock. Mortification had been one of the first extreme Christian metal bands. The way Mortification combined the Christian faith with the heaviness of the music was unique and many of today's Christian Metal band were inspired by Mortification.

In the late-eighties, bassist Steve Rowe played in the Australian classic metal band Lightforce, with a rather great success in their homeland. Around 1990, the band broke up, but Steve still wanted to play heavy music with a Christian message, and he was joined by drummer Jayson Sherlock and guitarist Cameron Hall. They released a demo in 1990 entitled "Break the Curse" under the Lightforce name, where Steve handled the vocals. With this release, the band changed musically towards thrash metal with a death metal touch to it. Steve felt the new direction of the band also required a new name, and so the band changed their name to Mortification. "Break the Curse" was remixed and re-released in 1994 by Nuclear Blast Records with a bonus track called "Butchered Mutilation".

In 1991, they released their self-titled debut album, "Mortification", on the American Christian label Intense Records. Michael Carlisle handling the guitar works as Cameron Hall had left the band, and the direction of the music changed once again. A lot of the songs were taken from their demo "Break the Curse", but the band tuned their guitars down, and the feel to the songs were way more heavy and doomy than to begin with. Also, Steve proved to be an excellent death metal vocalist, presenting some awesome growls throughout the album.

In 1992, the band had signed a deal with none other than Nuclear Blast Records in Germany, who had the biggest death metal names on their roster. Mortification released their second album "Scrolls of the Megilloth" which had great success, and in the Christian metal scene is considered a classic. The line-up had outdone themselves, playing some fast death metal with a few doomy touches here and there. A video-compilation which featured 8 Mortification music-videos was also released.

The band conquered new ground with their 1993 release "Post Momentary Affliction". Most notable were Steve's "new" vocals. Mixed together with the growls, he had some thrash-like screams which actually worked very well. The band also experimented with industrial, which they haven't done much since. Jayson Sherlock had his last concert with the band at the Blackstump Festival '93, and the concert was released both on CD and also VHS under the name "Live Planetarium". Jayson joined Paramæcium, and the new drummer were Phil Gibson.

The band released a new album in 1994 called "Blood World". They leaned more towards modern groove/thrash rather than death metal, and Steve mainly used his shouts rather than growling. A brave step to change so drastically, but nonetheless, the album had a great success in the US. Sadly, both Phil and Michael left the band, and Steve stood by himself.

1994 also saw the birth of Steve's own record label, "Rowe Productions". Together with numerous friends, Steve recorded the album Primitve Rhythm Machine which was released in 1995. The sound of the album is really nasty and messy with a tribal-percussion to it. Musically, Steve mixed all the styles Mortification had played in the past, death metal, thrash metal and groove metal.

Also, Mortification's Best of... 5 Years were released. A compilation album of older material. 2 songs from each previous release made a good introduction to new fans, and showed the bands innovation. This was the last album to be released by Mortification through Intense Records.

In 1996, Steve Rowe started 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. He learned how to play the drums while Mortification was on tour, and when they came back, Steve saw that he had been practicing, and was amazed at his progress, and instantly chose him to fill the spot as the drummer of the band. The guitar position was filled by guitarist Lincoln Bowen. Together, they recorded the album "EnVision EvAngeline". This disc mixed elements of classic metal, thrash metal and added a punk feel to some of the songs. The first cut is an epic 18+ minute about Christ's crucifixion from the angels point of view.

Two live EP's were also released, "Noah sat down and listened to the Mortification live ep while having a coffee" and "Live without Fear". Unlike their first live album "Live Planetarium" from the Blackstump festival, this was recorded at a small club, with a raw and nasty sound... the sound of a true Mortification concert.

A video-compilation from the band called "EnVidion" were released, containing numerous music-videos and interviews.

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 tragedies. Steve Rowe contracted a disease that would drag him down for the next year and a half: Accute Lymphatic Leukemia. 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. God has performed miracle and he lived to tell about it. This was despite doctors who had given him only hours to live - on more than one occasion - and a seemingly failed bone marrow transplant.

Soon after his miraculous recovery, Mortification recorded and released "Triumph of Mercy" in 1998, 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 style of the album was a mixture of groove and thrash, and is a testimony of Steve's healing through God.

1999 saw the release of "Hammer of God", and like "Triumph of Mercy", it was a mix of thrash and groove. The death metal elements were completely gone now, but the message of the band were the same: God-fearing lyrics.

In 2000, Mortification released another live album called "10 Years: Live Not Dead", which mainly featured material from their newer albums plus a new song called "Dead Man Walking". It was recorded at the Blackstump Festival 1999 and had a great sound to it. Keith Bannister left the band, and a replacement was found in the very young drummer Adam Zaffarese.

The new line-up released the album "The Silver Chord Is Severed" in 2000 and the band went on its first world tour. The music continued to be thrash and groove. At the end of 2000 Lincoln Bowen left, and the band was split, which seemed like it was the end of Mortification.

A collection of Mortification songs was released in 2002 on the compilation-album "1990-2000: Power, Pain and Passion".

However, things changed when the guitarists Jeff Lewis and Mick Jelinic joined the band, and in 2002 they released "Relentless". The band went in a slightly more heavy direction with a good doss of thrash and classic metal. The band played live as a 4-piece only a couple of times, as Jeff Lewis left the band.

2004 saw the released of "Brain Cleaner", now with ex-Cybergrind member Michael Forsberg on the drums. This were the heaviest released from the band in 10 years, and fast thrash dominates the album with lots of groove and death metal influences.

Now in 2006, Mortification is releasing a new album called "Erasing the Goblin". It was originally titled "Impaling the Goblin", but after many complaints that in some cultures this term had a sexual connotation to it, they changed the name to "Erasing the Goblin". The album cover is hilarious, showing a warrior throwing a sword of some sort into a goblin sitting on a rocking chair in a cave. This just goes to show another side of Steve Rowe's humor. The album is said to be a take on their older death/thrash sound around the time of their first 2-3 albums, which makes old fans very happy and brings a breath of fresh air to the fray. New developments to come as they happen.