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MEKONG DELTA

Mekong Delta

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Mekong Delta Mekong Delta album cover
2.93 | 31 ratings | 6 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Without Honour (3:47)
2. The Cure (3:39)
3. The Hut of Baba Yaga (4:13)
4. Heroes Grief (4:42)
5. Kill the Enemy (3:51)
6. Nightmare Patrol (3:25)
7. Shivas Return (4:10)
8. Black Sabbath (4:04)
9. Back Home (in Hell) (3:43)

Total Time: 35:37

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Ralph Hubert (aka Björn Eklund) / bass
- Frank Fricke (Rolf Stein) / guitar
- Reiner Kelch (Vincent St. Johns) / guitar
- Jörg Michael (Gordon Perkins) / drums
- Wolfgang Borgmann (Keil) / vocals

Releases information

Aaarg Records, AAARRG 4, out of print
Remastered edition is available by Zardoz music with 3 bonus tracks:
- Toccata, previously appeard on "Toccata" and "Classics"
- Black Betty (Ram Jam cover), previously appeard on "Toccata"
- Interludium II, previously appeard on "Toccata" and "Classics"
The song 'Black Sabbath' is missing from the remastered version (regarding to Amazon)

Thanks to riversdancing for the addition
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MEKONG DELTA Mekong Delta ratings distribution


2.93
(31 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
23%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
26%
Good, but non-essential (39%)
39%
Collectors/fans only (13%)
13%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

MEKONG DELTA Mekong Delta reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Some bloody thrash.

Are you ready to be kicked in the face? Well this record can do that to you in some of the best thrash lines you've heard ala your favorite 80's metal bands. Mekong Delta really wasn't progressive at this stage of the game, but they still provided some outstanding material and their debut album is no exception, with crushing riffs, a bruising young attitude, and plenty of aliases.

Overall, the amount of progressiveness is minimal at best, as we wouldn't see Mekong Delta branch out into other territories into later albums, but if you love you some monstrous riff structures and head banging medleys, this album has plenty of them. Not really recommended for the general prog community, but if you're just wanting a fun album, this one's not bad.

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Review by FruMp
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A very interesting progressive thrash debut.

In their first album we see some very promising material from MEKONG DELTA, their unique brand of technical thrash was quite ahead of it's time, a lot of these riffs are very unorthodox and combined with the odd timing and syncopation it makes for a compelling listen. The problem is that the album isn't terribly progressive and it's a little rough around the edges, the disparity between the good songs and the bad songs is quite large.

The opening track is a furious thrash number and is probably one of the fastest songs of their career, it's quite reminiscent of POSSESSED's Seven Churches album, especially the guitar solos. 'The Hut of Baba Yaga' is a very interesting song, an instrumental with some odd melodies and concepts brought forth, there really wasn't much like it around at the time and I really haven't heard something similar to this day, an exceptional song in concept and execution.

One thing MEKONG DELTA became renowned for was their melding of thrash instrumentation within a classical framework, there are 2 songs on here of this nature, 'Interludium' is a great little example of this, with the bass nicely syncopated at the right times underneath the violins and the double kick coming in at just the right times to add to the brooding atmosphere. 'Toccata' is the best song on the album and is one of the best examples of their classical and thrash amalgam completely relying on thrash instrumentation and yet it still maintains the illusion of being a classical work, it's really eye opening stuff.

Overall their debut is quite patchy with songs like the 'Black Betty' cover being something of a joke in comparison to the songs like 'Toccata', it's still a very worthwhile album though, recommended to fans of early Teutonic and technical thrash metal bands like CORONER (if you want a thrash band that does covers amazingly then CORONER are a good bet too).

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Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Mekong Delta" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by German thrash/progressive metal act Mekong Delta. My introduction to Mekong Delta was through their 2nd album "The Music of Erich Zann (1988)" which is an album I´ve owned for many years. It´s been a dust collector though and it´s only recently that I´ve gotten the curiosity back to seek out the rest of Mekong Delta´s discography.

This debut album by the band has a rather funny history as all musicians have other more international and not German sounding names even though they are all German citizens. This was alledgedly an attempt to disguise the true identities of the musicians involved. The album features many great musicians from the German metal scene though and Mekong Delta have nothing to be ashamed of with this release.

Behind some of the international sounding names we find musicians like drummer Jörg Michael (ex-Rage and later of Stratovarius fame), bassist and main-man behind the band Ralph Hubert (owner of record label Aaarrg and sound engineer for bands such as Warlock, Steeler and Living Death), and a couple of other ex-Rage musicians.

The music is a mix of traditional heavy metal and thrash metal all played in (for the time) great technical style. Strongly accented singing mared many German metal albums in the period but lead vocalist Wolfgang Borgmann does not contribute to that statistic. He is an excellent vocalist with no accents at all. Imagine Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) singing in more traditional heavy metal style and you´re just about there. A great asset to the band. The original LP version included a track called "Black Sabbath" which is a tribute to that band and features Black Sabbath song titles as lyrics. Unfortunately that song is for unknown reasons not included on the remastered Zardoz music CD version which includes the three songs "Toccata", "Black Betty" and "Interludium II" from the "Toccata (1989)" single instead. There are some great metal tracks on the album and I can´t help to bang my head whenever I listen to songs like "Back Home (in Hell)" and "The Cure". Progressive rock fans might find it interesting that Mekong Delta covers Mussorgsky´s "The Hut of Baba Yaga" which another famous progressive band also had tried their luck with about sixteen years earlier (that would of course be Emerson, Lake and Palmer).

The musicianship is excellent and in addition to the powerful vocal performance by Wolfgang Borgmann I also have to mention Jörg Michael´s drumming. He is such a precise and powerful drummer and already back then he sounded so much better than most other drummers on the scene.

The production is pretty good considering that most metal productions from 1987 sounded hollow and thin.

I´m really happy about this album but it has aged a bit and remains firmly stuck in the eighties. For fans of eighties heavy metal/ thrash metal this is a very worthy effort though and it fully deserves 3.5 stars from me.

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Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Mekong Delta' - Mekong Delta (6/10)

Germany has been a hub for metal since shortly after its inception, but it may be perhaps best known in the context of heavy metal of a very prolific thrash metal scene that dominated the 1980's. Bands like Sodom and Kreator come first to mind, and somewhere amidst this sea of Teutonic fury was Mekong Delta. Taking after the more inventive thrash acts- most notably Voivod and Watchtower- Mekong Delta plays a dissonant and quirky style of thrash on their debut. Although the grand classical fusion they would accomplish in later albums is only hinted at here, 'Mekong Delta' is a remarkably fun album to listen to, with a few songs standing out in particular.

In general, I have rarely ever found myself attracted to the style of thrash metal. The excessive speed and lacking sense of dynamic or variety is usually enough to turn me off to many of the bands, although the more inventive bands have made some very powerful stuff. Voivod was one of those bands, and their influence is evident in Mekong Delta, another thrash band that has really impressed me. The music here upholds the tenants of thrash metal; speed, over-the-top attitude, and aggressive riffs that would get a mosh pit fueled up in any live venue. What tends to put Mekong Delta's debut a step above the legions of other debuts that emerged from this period is simply its willingness to do something a little less predictable and different. There is a quick tease at classical music to introduce the second song 'The Cure', but the majority of the quirkiness comes from the dissonant guitar riffs, and Wolfgang Borgmann's all-over-the-place vocal sensibility. The songs here rarely let up their speed or traverse much of an emotional range, but the album is smart enough to end before the music stops being fun and starts getting tiresome.

'Without Honour' opens this album very nicely, with an intensity that most resembles Metallica's 'Fight Fire With Fire'. 'The Cure' is a standout track defined by Borgmann's wailing falsetto. 'The Hut Of Baba Yaga' is a more irregular track, an eerie and atmospheric cover of the Russian composer Mussorgsky. There are quite a few more straightforward tracks on the album that don't do much for me, but 'Kill The Enemy' takes the unrelenting energy and channels it into something erratic, with the falsettos chiming in and guitars hinting at avant- classical chord structures. The high points on this album are some of the strongest German thrash metal numbers of the time, but 'Mekong Delta' is dragged down by songs like 'Nightmare Patrol' or 'Shiva's Return'; songs that while enjoyable and fun to listen to, don't offer much lasting impact or impression.

Mekong Delta may have been young and naive at this point, but they created a very good album on their first try. Things would get better still with their second album, where they would go on to address some of the problematic variety issues that this album suffers from. 'Mekong Delta' does not see this band meeting the level of the heavyweights, but the potential is here.

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Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Mekong Delta are one of those bands that perpetually fly under the radar, pumping out releases pertaining to their own peculiar style while other trends in the metal and prog scene rise and fall. They were always too "thrashy" for a lot of proggers and even fans of the progressive metal circuit, and yet were too oddball and adventurous for straight-up metalheads to bang their heads to, and not 'brutal' enough for a reasonable amount of extreme fans. Yet, like Voivod, they persevere, but without even the cyberpunk cool angle Voivod encapsules. Mekong Delta are just what they are.

1987 was a busy year for German thrash, and as a debut, Mekong Delta announce right away that they weren't about slowing things down as "Without Honour" proudly displays. A full-on speedy thrashfest with little room to experiment, much like their vicious brethren such as Kreator, Sodom & friends, albeit with a vocalist who can actually sing. By track three, though, the unique aspects of the band are kicking in with "The Hut of Baba Yaga" eschewing fury for progressive flair and some classical influences, while "Heroes Grief" goes for outright gloom, enhanced with a bit of unobtrusive keyboards. There's also the tune "Black Sabbath" that's a pretty amusing ode to the band with the numerous name-checks to Sabbath tunes in the lyrics.

The overall sound is heavy yet murky, which heightens atmosphere at the expense of clarity for some of the faster riffs, but in this case it was probably the wiser choice since at this early stage the band were really just thrashing out much of the time in bullet-belt donning fashion, and the bit of haze gives the album a bit of a horror vibe that works in its favor. The band would opt for much more progressive and technical workouts concerning later output, but as a full- fledged thrash release in the 80's, it remains one of the more interesting ones, certainly concerning the year of its release.

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Latest members reviews

2 stars I have always been very curious about his mythical band from my youth. I was very pleased when I recently managed to get hold of all their albums. Back in those days, the identities of the musicians was concealed due to them being signed on other labels. A bit of a strange claim, but I believ ... (read more)

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