No Mercy (United States Of America, North Carolina)

Not a common sight these days: an oldschool, very traditionally influenced heavy/thrash band in the vein of Metallica circa ‘Kill ‘Em All’.  Never been my favorite style of metal, but it is pretty well composed, as raw as the production and playing is in spots.  A good grasp of early thrash writing is on display here, and minus some more modern tropes (a strangely placed blast beat on the closing track here, openly atonal soloing there) could be mistaken for a release out of ’84 without much trouble at all.  It seems that such a resolutely oldschool feel was the main goal with this CDr, and in that regard, it succeeds admirably.

The central problems are just a matter of audio; the production is very dry, with guitars and vocals pushed rather far into the background, forcing the drums forward, with particularly overloud bassdrums.  The playing is also sketchy at times; a lot of the drumming is uneven, and errors during solos are common.  Both of these factors, though, are apparently the result of lazy studio engineers more than the band themselves, who apparently recorded much of this EP in one take.  With that being said, the results aren’t nearly as catastrophic as they reasonably good have been; though it has sketchy moments, it overall turned out pretty well for what was probably a pretty horrid recording circumstance.  Additionally, neither of the problems are able to quite take away from the quality of the songwriting.

The tracks are written very well, to be sure.  The riffing is a fantastic replication of early Metallica style, with a musclebound, aggressive attitude and catchy rhythmic flair.  The vocals are mostly a Hetfieldesque singing shout, though a more aggressive style appears on the final track, and are performed pretty well for what they are.  The music is based on verse-chorus structures, as to be expected, and much of it is actually quite memorable and listenable.  It’s a bit hard to critique a style of music that I rarely dabble in myself, but I suppose one of the best compliments I can give this EP is that I manage to enjoy it despite the limitations of the genre as far as my tastes go.

While it’s not perfect, it’s a pretty fine start for a young thrash band.  Few artists are playing this very traditional style of heavy/thrash metal, so for all of you who yearn for the early ’80s, where metalheads blended like herds of zebra with denim in place of stripes, you’ll definitely want to check this out.

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~ by noktorn on April 8, 2008.

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