MERCILESS - The Awakening (TEMPLE OF DARKNESS - LP 2011)
Discussing the cult and classic status of "The Awakening" has as much sense as deliberating if the earth is a flat disc or a globe. There's just no point, as it's something obvious and undebatable. "The Awakening" belongs to the most legendary thrash / death metal albums and forever will remain such. If you don't have it in your collection then you're a wanker. If you doubt its greatness, you're even bigger ass.
There are two main reasons why this LP deserves all the status and appreciation. First is the music, obviously. Even if Merciless wasn't the most original band in the world nor the first one to play this style of thrash metal, they definitely were among the best. And still are. Second is the whole history behind the band and the album. All in all, Merciless were one of the first such extreme bands to rise in Sweden and one of the creators of the best scene in the world. And originally this album was released by Deathlike Silence Productions as Anti-Mosh 01 – hopefully I don't even have to remind you who owned this label and how important it was back then and how legendary it is nowadays. Obviously, you don't need to own the original CD or LP pressing from DSP, as they're insanely pricy. There were several re-editions, among which you could skip the early Century Media reissue with that awfully coloured artwork. But later, in 2011, Temple of Darkness Records took care of a fine re-edition, with vinyl artwork almost identical to the original DSP version, but with such extra goodies as huge poster and lyrics sheet. And the killer picture LP, which in my opinion sounds awesome, giving a lie to all opinions that picture discs sound crap.
But putting packaging aside, I truly love this album. Merciless sounded insanely aggressive and vicious, their music was fast, harsh and the riffs were sharp as the sharpest razor, cutting through flesh with great ease and effect. You could put them aside to the likes of , Protector, Possessed, Grotesque, or Messiah - and they all would be equal in this game of band name dropping. I absolutely love the riffage and merciless (yeah!) attitude of this music, that straight forward, highly violent sound. I suppose this was one of the fastest thrash metal albums of that era (recorded in 1989!). Maybe nowadays this speed won't make a big impression on a fan (for instance), but back then it sounded savage and sick. Occasionally you will hear a slower riff or even a bit of melody - like in "Denied Birth", one of the best songs here. So, there's enough of great to appreciate the album fully. And did I mention the screaming vocals of Roger Petersson? Or really great production from Tuna Studio? “The Awakening” sounds great and even nowadays it doesn’t sound archaic to me.
This LP has also some live tracks from 1990 – I usually don’t like such additions and prefer when the album sticks to the original only. I don’t need bonus songs. But these live recordings sound not bad at all, it would be a nice idea to release them on a separate 7”, instead of sticking them on the side B. It’s a minor complain though. Enjoy this record as it is. Truly legendary piece of thrash / death metal.
Standout tracks: “Pure Hate”, “Denied Birth”, “Dreadful Fate”