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Unjustly Ignored - 86%

Gutterscream, July 22nd, 2005
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Combat Records (Combat Boot Camp)

"...its power will never decrease..."

Have Mercy’s beginnings are as normal, humble, and uneventful as any band out there that’s never impacted the underground with an even minor crater, the revolving door of musicians produced at best future members of Nothingface and Fear of God, and are the reasons why the Baltimore band is as well-known as the color of Nigeria’s vehicle license plates. But all this doesn’t mean they were lousy.

Since the music itself - a trove of Remnants of War-era Helstar vocals overshadowing slightly less electrified speed metal ala Agent Steel with a touch of Hades technicality - is involved and enthusiastic, I believe the culprit to the quintet’s lack of success is the constant shuffling/leaving/unfound membership. They’ve had around seven vocalists and six guitarists from ’83-’88; one guy went into hiding, one broke his neck in a van accident, and one just disappeared. Unacceptable vocals were re-recorded on more than one project, which did nothing for time frames as well…and so is the tale of woe of Have Mercy.

For all their (most likely frustrated) effort, they managed one ep for Combat’s fleeting Boot Camp Series that sprung three or four revamped songs from their ’85 Mass Destruction demo and some new ones, renaming it Armageddon Descends; either way, the ep has the production strength of reinforced tin, but is etched with busy decorations of abstruse speed metal and virile, high-strung phonics.

“Intro”, a single-riff entry to the ep that may as well be part of the next song, delivers a somewhat dramatic course to “Mass Destruction” and its operatic, vibrating chorus that’s as concealed as a giraffe prancing through Times Square (then again, it is NY). “City of Doom” excavates more active, technical songwriting, such as a primordial Watchtower with moodier pacing, meanwhile “Holy Dismissal” is a tad more conventional; unhurriedly stepped, yet interesting and brooding with a menacing undercurrent. “Faces of Death” draws from an impressive pool of timing changes and structural unhinging while speeds boil and evaporate within moments of each other. “No Forgiveness” is another track eclipsed by both pre-chorus and chorus, vocalist Lonnie Fletcher (I think) howling notes into the stratosphere with convicted elegance.

If not for their flimsy membership foundation, Have Mercy could’ve probably fought over the same territory with Agent Steel, but with the might of mere demos, the cards just didn’t favor it. Unjustly ignored.