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One Of The Best Thrash Demos I've Heard! - 100%

ThrashFanatic, March 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1986, Cassette, Independent

Mercenary were one of those bands that only released demos, they've never released a full length sadly. That being said, their 1986 demo is absolutely fantastic and it has some of the crunchiest, heaviest, fastest, most ferocious thrash of the 1980's. It is right up there with the likes of Atrophy, Nuclear Assault, Exhorder, and Annihilator. The band knew how to write unique riffs, melodies, solos, and they all around kicked major ass. The band hails from San Francisco, California, so we know these guys are Bay Area thrash. The question is however, how does it hold up to Testament, Blind Illusion, Exodus, Heathen, Vio-lence, and Forbidden?

The demo's production is quite good for demo standards, it has that distinctive thrash sound that was well known in the 80's. Sven Soderlund is an excellent frontman and guitarist, his solos and riffs are just out of this world. He doesn't just play the same riff, he has variety to what he plays. Danny White is the other guitarist and he is just as talented as Soderlund. After Mercenary, White would go on to join funk/thrash band Mordred and perform on their legendary debut "Fool's Game" in 1989. Brooks Holland handles bass duties, he is kind of hard to hear however. His bass is kind of buried under the reverb of the drums and guitars. It's a shame, because it's always nice to be able to hear the bass in the mix on thrash demos and records. Drummer Slade Anderson puts on a spectacular performance here. His drums are produced very well, and his drumming is quite good. It's not anything too insane, but it works like a charm for this demo.

The songs are all classics, the demo consists of 4 tracks. The melodic guitar intro of "Trembling Delirium" is awesome, it reminds me of something that Atrophy would of played on "Socialized Hate". The riffs are everywhere, and the solo is stunning. "Retinal Burns" has some heavy riffs, and a very memorable chorus. "Window Prisoners" is another killer track with more awesome riffs. The riffs here remind me of newer thrash band Fatal Agent, it wouldn't surprise me if this band influenced Fatal Agent. The final track which is an instrumental is "Self-Destruct" and it is one of the best thrash instrumentals I have heard. The melody in the middle of the track is another example of how Mercenary's creativity shines when it comes to writing songs. They sure are one thrash band that isn't afraid to add some melodic parts to their raging thrash sound.

Mercenary should have received more recognition in the realms of thrash. This demo should have landed them a record deal. One fan could only dream of how insanely awesome a full-length would have been. This band is one of the best Bay Area bands but sadly many thrash fans have no idea of who they are because they have remained hidden in obscurity for quite some time. We can only hope that this amazing demo gets remastered and released on CD for the diehard Mercenary fans, because I would definitely pick up a copy of this on CD if such a thing were to be released. I recommend this to fans of Atrophy, Nuclear Assault, Testament, Evildead and Fatal Agent.

Highlights: EVERYTHING!!!