The Mezmerist , a project which few have heard of and even less has music from, is the centre is attention from the newest release of Shadow Kingdom Records. A reissue of two EPs the band recorded back in the mid-eighties; The Innocent, The Forsaken, The Guilty is an intriguing and riveting insight to a band almost lost to time with a background as interesting as its engaging sounds.
The band was the project of Thomas Mezmercardo, a young guitarist taking influences from the likes of Van Halen, Black Sabbath, and Mahogany Rush into his own ideas and creativity. With a sound which merges psychedelic and classic/heavy metal driven with a strong mix of vocals highlighted at times with falsetto squalls and expression, The Mezmerist released The Innocent, The Forsaken, The Guilty in 1985, the ‘double EP’ release filled with tracks recorded over two sessions two years apart.
The first notable thing about the release is that the 1983 4 track EP section features Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward alongside Mezmercardo and bassist Roger Abercrombie. As Ward was with Sabbath at the time his contribution was un-credited for legal reasons on the 500 copied pressing, which with the band holding on to a great many of the copies has become very collectable with those in the know and selling on eBay for extreme high prices. Mezmercardo himself has been a sought after and hard to find man since for many interested parties in re-releasing the EP, but finally tracked down and coming to an agreement with Shadow Kingdom for its reissue, which took five years to come to pass even from that point, the described as ‘ by far one of the best cult classic metal albums you’ll ever hear’, is finally available for all.
Whether the release does fit the label’s declaration is debatable but certainly it is an engrossing and enjoyable step back in decades which is very satisfying to have encountered. The first quartet of songs come from that previously mentioned 1983 session featuring Ward and starts with The Forsaken, a caustic atmospheric confrontation with the droning hum of destruction soaring its skies and stark chilling winds wrapping their cold intimidating tendrils around the spoken narrative of Mezmercardo. It is an excellent intro to the release though arguably what follows is an anti-climax to its ruinous suggestion as they seem to steer away musically from the menace and aggression laid down.
The following Dead Ones Cry No More is instantly expelling a scorched heat of guitar and sonic persuasion, a sizzling psychedelic haze on the wasteland of its predecessor. A Middle Eastern temptation lines the immediately skilful and entrancing guitar work framed by the appealing bass prowl and strong rhythmic craft of Ward, though neither of those steal the glory from the guitars or attention from the vocals of Mezmercardo whom when hitting those high levels takes a little getting to use to, his lower cleaner presence more preferable for personal tastes. The song is a sultry caress which opens up the appetite for the next up Arabian Nights, another song reaping those seductive eastern essences to fine effect. There is a Led Zeppelin/Sabbath feel to the sound which draws in the emotions potently though this is tempered by the vocals which at this point has for these tastes, lost their flavour.
Victim of Environmental Change completes the first part in more than decent style though feels far more of a demo than the other tracks, before the three songs from the 1985 session take their place before the ear. With a line-up of Mezmercardo, bassist Steve Conrad, and drummer JR, as soon as Kingdom of the Dead steps forward there is a breeze of freshness and clarity over the previous songs. The bass has a swagger and mischief that has lips licked whilst the drums are easily an equal to what Ward offered previously. The vocals also have a greater control and persuasion with Mezmercardo staying to a less acidic delivery which with a raw and unfussy breath really works well with the great sounds around them. The track has a doom clad crawl and stalking to its presence whilst guitars and bass twist and turn with enterprise and invention.
No Family, No Friends has a definite punk stroll and snarl to its riffs, their hungry belligerent course seared and entwined in defined and potent sonic spirals of imagination and skill whilst the rhythms again cage it with eagerness and craft. Like the song before it is an excellent taunt for the passions and easily the pair steal the honours on the release.
Completed by the instrumental The Jam Song, a track which feels like it says, an improvised playtime for the musicians which flows and courts the imagination with ease, especially the underlying surf rock dance to its controlled charge, The Innocent, The Forsaken, The Guilty is a release all heavy metal fans should take a look at. A cult classic…maybe not, a thoroughly entertaining and flavoursome treat…undoubtedly.
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