Reviewed: December, 2020
Released: 2020, self-release
Reviewer: Kat Knite
Vancouver based groove-infused death metal band Without Mercy rise like a supermassive tsunami wave over the West coast of Canada and send ripples across the planet with their new release, Seismic. As the skies turn fatal blue and dominate the atmosphere, the sounds of this record can be heard wailing within a thunderstorm of bone-rattling, hair-raising, scream-inducing tracks that will shake you to the core, one kick in the ass at a time.
For fans of Cattle Decapitation, Meshuggah, Whitechapel, Pantera, and Decapitate, Without Mercy have never been ones to disappoint their listeners. These guys take meticulous care of their work to make sure that when it hits the ears of the public, it blows both their minds and the roofs off their houses. Each track on Seismic is the result of hours, months, and sometimes years of work. As the band toured and rewrote each tune to perfection, the members had long discussions of which songs to keep and which to hold back, and as the lyrical content evolved from previous releases, they got a better sense of what fit perfectly into this earthquake of an album. Additionally, Without Mercy take it up an extra notch on Seismic by featuring iconic guitarists Chris Broderick (MEGADETH) on ‘Thunderbird’, and Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy/NEVERMORE) on ‘Disinfect the Soul’.
“Easily the song that faced the most changes and evolution throughout the course of this writing. Uprooted is a song that we carried with us through tours and live performances never really satisfied with its end result until now. We shelved it, and then brought it down and dusted it off. We gave it an overhaul and in the end, it’s become something absolutely crushing to us.”
As someone who more often opts for more melodic styles of metal, I was weary of what I’d encounter. I was worried it’d be repetitive, indistinguishable, and far too cacophonous for my ear. While the extremity and clash of hard metal vocals and instruments was present, there was also a vast amount of unique skill and musical balance to be heard. To put it simply: the band does an incredible job of blending their grooves with their growls.
Between segments of death, doom, and shreddy guitar solos that absolutely slay, there are moments of satisfying melodic breakdowns, and cutting riffs to die for. ‘Left Alone’ , which might just be the song that won me over, features an unreal breakdown that is slow, sludgy, and sexy. The genius is in the contrast, and that’s where I see the band truly shine. ‘Wiindigo’‘s breakdown follows in a similar suit, something primal in the chugging of the dark and heavy guitars.
Along with musical arrangements that are detailed and interesting, Seismic is full of lyrics that hold true and poignant meaning while using powerful imagery to evoke epic scenes of turbulent life and painful decay in the minds eye.
An excerpt from ‘I Break the Chain’:
“Betrayal inevitable in human race
All holding hands
He breaks free from the chain, learns to love isolation
With one missing link the rest will perish
A great snake comes and eats all in the chain”
Along with being the oldest and most reworked, ‘Uprooted’ is also arguably the best track on the record. Ringing with a thousand bells of misery, it defines a dreary and unforgiving landscape forever cracked and broken by the relentless pounding of life’s black heart.
“To dream of the earth dying is nothing new
To watch in awe of its beauty is something I don’t do
To hold a dead bird in my hand and demand it sing
To hold a gift in my hand and not feel a thing”
“I was affected
But, emotion should never be expected
Allow me to process the world as best I can
I am a common man that is sick of panicking, sick of managing, sick of damaging, sick of bandaging”
“I dreamt of the tree again and it never died
It fought with all its might against the force I can’t describe
It did more than just survive the force
It had its way with its predator
Viciousness the only resort
What I misperceived as a deathscream
Was a warcry”
Though up for personal interpretation, the end of the song seems to signify some sort of hope and defiance against the malevolent forces battled every day, and brings a triumphant feeling to the commencement of Without Mercy‘s new ground-shaking album.