Without Mercy have crafted a classic thrash album here. This is not to say that they are overly derivative, but the classics have a strong presence here, like Yoda in Return of the Jedi. There is a unique style to each track, whether from vocalist Alxs Ness’s growls, bassist Dallas Lacy’s lines; which by the way are more interesting than the typical lines on many a thrash record, guitarist DJ Temples riffs, or drummer Matt Helie’s work. The influence of the past is strong though, and for the most part it works out in the band’s favor.
Opening with the track Death Remains, the band pulls no punches and quickly show what they are all about. Solid, heavy, classic riffs and vocals are the order of the day. Bass lines do the standard guitar shadow at times, but here is one area that Without Mercy stands out as Dallas shows a strong ability to break out of the box with fills or with entire lines as in the track Chasm. This is an area where there is bound to be some split in opinion, should the bass keep the bottom down for the sake of staying heavy or is it all right to go out on a limb? Personally, I love it when any musician steps out of line and does what they want, bass, drums, harmonica, circus organ, whatever. It’s their art, we are just the listeners, and can make up our minds after the fact. Vocalist Alxs (and I am spelling her name as it appears on the band’s myspace page) has a fairly limited range, a low growl, a high growl, and a mid range growl. The higher growl is by far the strongest, and thankfully she uses it often. The lower range is a little weaker than I was expecting, but the mid is nice and tight and is the standard voice for most of her vocals. I probably would have skipped more of the a Capella parts. Drummer Matt Helie is clearly a talented musician and he uses what he has to fill up the sonic space between chugs of guitar or bass. The double bass work reminds me a bit of LoG drummer Chris Adler, which is a very positive comparison for any metal drummer. There are a couple of questionable snare choices, but all in all his work adds to the music and is quite solid. Guitarist DJ Temple is a very capable shredder, one particular standout is the guitar solo in the track Succumb. He solos over bass and drums only, no rhythm track, and it rocks in a very Pantera like way. I wish more bands could do this successfully.
There are a couple of stand out tracks here, Chasm, Death Remains, and Succumb come to mind. The album is a good one, nothing feels overtly like filler, however not every track is as memorable as the last. All Else Fails, the closer, is the huge standout of the album in my opinion. The production is not bad, but could be improved some though I give it high marks for an unsigned band. Overall this is a pretty good metal record, nothing earth shattering but it has moments that are very memorable and there is quality musicianship throughout.
1. Death Remains
2. Through the Haze
8. All Else Fails