It sometimes is bewildering what the Metal world at large will elevate to popularity. Mediocre bands are elevated while those who truly innovate can get lost in the sands of time.
Sweden’s MERCILESS should be far more well known than they are. Interestingly, they were the first band that Euronymous of MAYHEM released an album from on his label, Deathlike Silence. That very album is the subject of this review, as well as being MERCILESS’ debut.
To say this album is powerful would be a severe understatement. Seldom has a band achieved a worthy synthesis of Death Metal, Black Metal, Thrash, and Speed Metal. MERCILESS just happens to be one of them. What should be emphasized on this record is technique. Vocals are a harsh rasp that is actually quite coherent. The combination of Death Metal and Speed/Thrash riffing meet fast tremolo picking in a style that would become recognizable in the burgeoning Black Metal movement.
In addition to MERCILESS’ innovation in technique, the songs are thunderously anthemic. Choruses are instantly memorable, riffs are intense and cutting, and the aggression portrayed by this music is seething. Instances such as the bridge section of “Dreadful Fate," the entirety of “Bestial Death," or the booming chorus of the title track typify the feral and unhinged nature of this music. Conversely, tracks such as “Dying World” show restraint in their usage of slower, Doom-like tempos. In addition, “Realm Of The Dark” is a perfect example of the synthesis of Black, Death, and Thrash; beginning with a charging tremolo riff and rapid percussion, it suddenly slows to a KREATOR inspired midpaced section with tinges of Bay Area Speed/Thrash in its arrangement, only to rip violently and without warning into the introduction riff again.
Production is fitting for the period; reverbed vocals, a somewhat hollow but vicious guitar tone, and a well balanced mix which lets each element of the music display its voice but also does not drown out any of them. This reviewer’s consensus?
BUY. OR. DIE.
(Online July 10, 2011)