Monday, August 29, 2011
No Mercy - Epic (2010)
As much as it pains me to say, bands like Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica won't be around forever. Hell, some may say that Metallica disappeared four albums ago. We need the younger generations to step up to the plate, and craft a new metal legacy. For North Carolina three piece No Mercy, their home spun brand of melodic thrash could be the answer. After sharing the stage with several major label acts, the band look to take the next step with "Epic."
The opening track, the Metallica-esque "Awake," has all of the promise and potential you would expect. The thrashing verse sections are headbanging delights, despite the murkiness of the production. The trouble lies in the lyrics and their subsequent delivery. Too many words, too quickly. Each vocal passage seems forced, as if the lyrics took precedent over the flow of the song. It is truly unfortunate because, musically, this is the strongest track on the album. The guitar solo seems natural, even when the vocals do not.
This remains a constant throughout, especially on "Fall Into The Sky." The Hetfield-style delivery in the verse is weak, whereas the more down tempo bridge and chorus lyrics fit. The band execute the slower portions with true precision, which would be a victory of massive proportions if this were not a thrash record. Unlike its predecessor, the guitar solo here feels tacked on, as if it was an afterthought. The outro portion, however, is well crafted, allowing a powerful bass line to make an appearance.
The production issue is most evident on the opening drum fills on "Cold Shoulder." The one dimensional thud of toms is disheartening. But even more troublesome is the lack of quality control on the vocals. Even the heaviest of thrash bands have powerful singers, from the aforementioned Hetfield to Slayer's Tom Araya. Screams, grunts and coarse singing all require in depth thought into tone and tempo, something that is sorely lacking here. The choreographed chugging stops in the breakdown section seem to reveal some missed editing and volume touches, which unfortunately only succeeds in burying a worthy solo.
The album ends with two songs, each clocking in at over six minutes each. "Under Dying Eyes" has some of the best musical work on the album, with a repeated clean section that features a crystal clear bass line that somehow was lost before. Minus an ill placed solo, and struggling vocals, this would be an instrumental nugget of gold. The closing track, "Eye Of The Storm," is the most complete piece on the album. From the heavy intro to the hair swinging guitar riffs, this one is the realization of musical potential. The soft, clean riffs in the breakdown are refreshing, even if the clean singing is not. This is the track to hang their hat on, a sign of good things to come.
Unfortunately, the album feels more like a handful of thirty second riffs and vocal ideas hashed out into full tracks, without any thought or care. There is very little cohesion, both within the tracks, and moving from one to the next. The lack of core production values only exacerbates this problem, highlighting the flaws rather than the victories. A dedicated vocalist and a trip to the studio may be just what the doctor ordered. But for this young group of metal hopefuls, "Epic" was anything but.
Official Site - http://www.nomercyband.com/
Myspace - http://www.facebook.com/NoMercyBand