Mezzrow – Summon Thy Demons

Many see Mezzrow as one of Sweden’s finest thrash bands. Their 1990 debut, Then Came the Killing, emerged at a time when death metal was all the rage. Mezzrow fizzled out after a 1991 demo, only to be heard from again in 2006 with a two-disc DVD documenting their live performances from the golden era. The Covid-19 lockdown inspired bassist, Conny Welén, to approach the original vocalist, Uffe Pettersson, to get the band back together with a trio of new musicians in the guitar and drum department. Summon Thy Demons is their first album for thirty-three years, yet you’d think this line-up were seasoned veterans. It won’t change the metal landscape, but Mezzrow’s sophomore effort embraces the Bay Area thrash dynamics and reminds you what Metallica have lost over the last three decades.

Clearly, Mezzrow retain a deep passion for the music that informed their youth when Yugoslavia still existed, much of Latin America embraced military dictatorship, and Saddam Hussain was the biggest threat to the new world order. They might even transport you back to the time when people wore their hair in the mullet fashion and major labels released hit singles on seven-inch vinyl, cassette, and CD formats. Of course, few thrash bands pandered to the hit parade at the height of the genre’s popularity, and Mezzrow make a point of avoiding any semblance of a ballad on Summon Thy Demons. Opener, ‘King of the Infinite Void’, is a fine piece of MetallicaSlayer engineering with stomping double-timing beats and a confident enunciation of voice from Uffe Pettersson. It has everything you want – rapid alt-picking riffs, expressive solos, massive Prong grooves in the middle-eight, and a climactic ending. ‘Through the Eyes of the Ancient Gods’ is almost as effective with its thumping double-kick drums and gang vocals in the chorus. Pettersson reveals shades of Tom Araya in his snarl but often evokes the bark and bite of Venom Inc’s Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan.

The biggest challenge of this record is finding its flaws. It may not be original, but this is how you write a thrash LP. There’s no messing around with Ennio Morricone’s invigorating peaks, nor will you find experiments with detuned guitars or an overreliance on the double-kick pedal. Most contemporary metal bands prefer to unleash their energy with hardcore or death metal screams – not Mezzrow. Listen to the surprise hook in the chorus to ‘What Is Dead May Never Die’ as the band treat you to a Testament feast of air guitar euphoria. ‘De Mysteriis Inmortui’ takes its cue from the Black album and Dave Lombardo’s iconic drum work.

Like English stalwarts, Xentrix, the five members of Mezzrow agree that their collective goal is to deliver a neck-snapping metal record. Any nuances you find among this head-banging frenzy are a bonus. Only on ‘Dark Spirit Rising’ do they venture beyond San Francisco in search of Florida, with a nod to Death’s harmonic minor riffing in between the verse and the chorus. The main rhythmic assault will remind you of ‘Blackened’ by Metallica. It struggles to invigorate you at track number nine when your mind wants something other than a thrash stomp.

Mezzrow will earn many plaudits for the quality of their thrash metal, and they deserve praise for the way they return after thirty-three years with a strong sense of where the genre functions at its best. It will be far more interesting to hear where they go from here with their credentials restored and new listeners onboard.



Release Date: 21/04/2023

Record Label: Fireflash Records

Standout tracks: King of the Infinite Void, What is Dead May Never Die, Blackness Fell Upon the World

Suggested Further Listening: Xentrix – Seven Words (2022), Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss (1990), Bonded – Into Blackness (2021)