Released: 2016, Kaotoxin Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That’s a hard lesson to learn sometimes, but it’s one that France’s Mercyless have taken to heart since reforming in 2011. One of the best and brightest alumni of early 90’s death metal, Mercyless paid close attention to the transitional sounds of Death, Pestilence, and Gorguts, and adapted those lessons to their own brand of brutality. Their debut ABJECT OFFERINGS and its follow up COLOURED FUNERAL are still widely regarded as underground hits, but when the band veered into alt-metal soundscapes on C.O.L.D. and the cringe worthy SURE TO BE PURE, fans revolted and Max Otero eventually closed up shop.
2013’s comeback album UNHOLY BLACK SPLENDOR was a welcomed return to the classic Mercyless brand of death metal that so many had been missing for so long. But it’s their latest post-reunion full length PATHETIC DIVINITY which truly seeks to reestablish Mercyless as a modern day death metal menace. A lean and concentrated album, PATHETIC DIVINITY opts to launch as many precision strikes at your earholes as possible over the course of 33 minutes. But the sonic assault is peppered with plenty of tasteful melodic garnish and confident technical aptitude, particularly across standouts like “A Representation of Darkness”, “How Deep is Your Hate?”, and the Bolt Thrower march of the title track. There’s definitely some old school DNA in the new material, but the songwriting sounds fresh and the execution is miles beyond what Mercyless could’ve delivered in its youth.
PATHETIC DIVINITY is as good, if not better, than anything Mercyless released in their prime. It’s also one of the best traditional death metal records you’re gonna hear this year. Which just goes to show - when you stick with what you know and don’t try to write nu metal records for the sake of being different, things tend to work out the way they’re supposed to.