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Majestic, Melodic, Merciless. - 89%

Zodijackyl, May 30th, 2012

Merciless take a turn towards making majestic thrash on this album, slowing down from their purely high-speed past and letting songs gallop and build up similar to mid-era Bathory minus the keyboards. The band have grown as musicians, as cliche as that sounds, they manage to effectively implement the changes in dynamics that they tried to use on their previous album. The most welcome change is the greatly improved drumming, which allows a full range from slow to fast and softer to harder, even some clean and acoustic guitars. While retaining their death/thrash roots, this one shows a similarity to Necrophobic and Unanimated, unsurprising considering the presence of Unanimated drummer Peter Stjärnvind.

The strongest track on the album is the epic "Back to North" - this shows the mid-paced thrash influence of Bathory, as well as the melodic black/death leanings. There's a great melodic guitar solo backed by keyboards, and it builds up and leads into an acoustic interlude, another furious section, then a laid-back melodic section. The drumming here is great, as it does an excellent job of dictating the pace and progression of the song. The buildups and dynamic changes in the song are quite impressive.

The classic Merciless scorchers are here - "Silent Truth" and "Feebleminded" are new ones, and "Nuclear Attack" reappears from their second demo. They're a little more varied than the early stuff, and the drumming is certainly better, but they won't disappoint if you like their older stuff. If you haven't heard their earlier stuff, check it out or look for descriptions in my reviews of the earlier stuff.

The other tracks fall somewhere between, with a good amount of progression, relying on fast, aggressive thrash but exploring further with melodic sections and dividing them with breaks that showcase the excellent drumming. The drumming isn't overly fancy, but it is very effective and it's a huge step forward from their earlier efforts. The guitar work's grasp on the mid-paced and melodic parts enables them to write longer songs that flow well.

All of this fits nicely into the style that Merciless have carved out for themselves - the parts that channel Bathory and Unanimated still sound more like Merciless than those, but you can hear the similarity. This style showcases what the band can do much better than the did previously - while brief thrash assaults are nice, they assembled a much more complete listening experience (at a whole 38 minutes, rather than the 27 of their debut or less on the demos). This is their finest hour, and it builds on their career very nicely.