2020 has already thrown us a lot of curveballs, but “Lamb of God Guitarist Records Acoustic EP” was still unexpected. Mark Morton’s first solo record, last year’s Anesthetic, was well-received for its meaty groove riffs and stellar guest lineup. Morton's new EP, Ether, keeps the guests but ditches the riffs for acoustic strumming. Buckle up, bucko. It’s time for a trip to country town.
Actually, that’s unfair. Even though it’s all acoustic, Ether isn’t country. It skirts the line between indie, folk-rock, and (okay, fine) outlaw country. No seriously. If it didn’t have Mark Morton’s name attached to it, you might mistake this for the new Lucero record. Not bad, but a jarring shift in tone, sound, image and…well, just about everything.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. Lamb of God have already announced a new album and Mark Morton is doing whatever he wants until then. It’s refreshing to hear this versatile musician sit down and play straight from the heart with no obligations to hold him back. Usually—99 times out of 100—the dude playing acoustic guitar at a party doesn't work. But every once in a while, the whole party stops to listen. Mark Morton achieves this a couple of times on Ether, which already puts him head and shoulders above the many other metal acts who have dipped their toes into the "acoustic covers album" swamp. It isn't Lamb of God. It isn't even Anesthetic, but it’s a decent prelude for the metal storm that is undoubtedly about to break this year.