How did I sleep on this band? I remember hearing about Mother of Mercy when their No Eden 7” was released, but I never took the time to follow up. Hailing from the greater Philadelphia area, this band took me by surprise with their debut full-length III. Mother of Mercy comes from the ashes of the now-defunct Let Down, who I feel never got enough credit for their few solid releases and great live show. Somehow, by living on the Westcoast and failing to attend the last few Sound & Fury’s, this band slipped past me, and now I feel like I should have bought their records long ago.
Mother of Mercy plays an interesting heavy breed of hardcore that brings a number of 90’s bands to mind, something that a number groups are trying to recreate nowadays. At first I hear bits of Ringworm and Trial, with a thrash-metal tinge. I can also hear how this band fits in with local contemporaries like Blacklisted and the late Think I Care. One of the first things you will notice about III is the raw and precise production of the recording, with every guitar tone and drum hit echoing and bending in just the right ways. This isn’t a hardcore band gone metal experiment; you will not hear eight minutes of drones and solos. This is an insistent and brash record that has yet to wear out its welcome, even though it’s barely long enough to leave you satisfied.
III begins with “Divide,” an abrasive track with a few bouncy interludes that juxtapose the hard-hitting verses. This is a song that smacks you upside the head as opposed to easing you into it, and shows you the precision necessary for every part of this record. Many of the tracks follow similar patterns, although the style never gets old. Mother of Mercy pulls it off so well that you’ll always want to hear more. Songs like “Back to the Agony” and “Slip” sound just as fun for the band to play as they are for us to listen to. Even “Cadence,” a soft piano interlude with rain in the background, acts as a well-placed break in the record, accenting the dark themes of III.
If you put this on in the background, you’re guaranteed to turn your head at more than a few riff progressions. Mother of Mercy does a great job of delivering raw power and disguising their originality with short tracks and simple structures. They took their metallic style they developed on their first two records and expanded it, greatly benefiting from the superior recording quality. The strength packed into every track is impressive, with “Suffer” as a perfect last song, the natural hardcore sensibilities coming through the metal overtones. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite records of the year.
9.1 / 10
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