The Mark Of Cain is one of Australia's finest contemporary rock bands. Formed in 1984 by the brothers Scott (John - vocals and guitar; Kim - bass) and augmented by a succession of exploding drummers (the number of which puts Spinal Tap to shame), TMOC have, over the past 20 years, forged a formidable body of work. Their debut album, 1989's 'Battlesick', remains a landmark recording in alternative Australian music. Drawing inspiration from Joy Division and Big Black, 'Battlesick' was a stark, confronting treatise on alienation and loneliness, themes which songwriter John Scott would continue to address throughout TMOC's career. 'The Unclaimed Prize' followed in 1991, but it was with the Henry Rollins-produced 'Ill At Ease' in 1995 that TMOC made their breakthrough to a wider national audience. If 'Battlesick' was the band's manifesto, then 'Ill At Ease' crystalised their reputation for lyrical and musical intensity. In 10 perfectly realised songs, John Scott picks so deep at the wounds of a broken relationship to the point where his pain is almost beautiful in its clarity. Indeed, its Scott's willingness and commitment to dealing with life's realities, as much as his band's ferocious musical attack, which inspires a reciprocal commitment and respect from like-minded fans.
On stage and on record, TMOC are a brutal, honest and utterly uncompromising hardcore band. Its an attitude which they also extend towards the music industry. Despite the widespread acclaim for 'Ill At Ease', it wasn't until 2001, six years later, that a fourth album of original songs, 'This Is This', was released. Featuring, appropriately, former Helmet and current Tomahawk drummer John Stanier, and recorded by Andy Gill of seminal UK postpunk outfit Gang Of Four, 'This Is This' was the heavy artillery version of 'Ill At Ease' - less-focussed in its anger, but even more sonically powerful. At the time of writing, its unclear when we can expect the next TMOC album, but if you're a fan you'll know it'll be worth the wait. If you're new to TMOC, there is an enduring collection of music to check out. Get to it.