Mitra performs at the Double Wide on Saturday, July 15, with Finish the Fight.
With so much death metal and screamo in the metroplex, what's a headbanging purist to do? Sure, a band like Necrogazm will hump your eye socket with rapid-fire sludge, and Autumn Silence adds metal riffs and satanic screams to a mall-friendly emo formula, but speed and screams alone don't cut it in the already-crowded metal genre. Enter Mitra: The guitarist and drummer from local longtimers Speedealer and the throat of Billyclub's Kurt Grayson have joined forces, creating a metal beast in debut All Gods Kill whose fangs come from solid songwriting, not just sheer force. Not that the disc is wimpy; matter of fact, it's a purists' album, a love letter (or maybe hate letter?) to late '80s and early '90s metal that emphasizes Hetfield-ian howl-singing as much as it does Anselmo-ian throat mutilation. Grayson's psychotic voice reaches every circle of hell here, but the lyrics aren't intimidating--"Who died and made you our new god?/All gods kill." Really, the devil of Mitra is Eric Schmidt, who revives Speedealer's hard-on for Motörhead with tasteful blues-metal play. He can strum like a madman on agitated songs such as "Medicate Me," but his work is more impressive on songs such as "Violence Is Golden": He has room to wheedle around Dimebag-style but chooses instead to impress with straightforward, non-wanky riffs that shift constantly, preventing any banger boredom. Shame about the production--the levels are a mess, especially with the drums, and the band doesn't sound nearly as tight as they should--because otherwise, All Gods Kill is among the better metal albums from Dallas this decade.