MERCYLESS - "COLOURED FUNERAL" LP
I would almost go as far as to say that this album is a forgotten classic of oldschool death metal; it requires a great deal of patience and multiple listens to fully grasp, but it's time well worth spending in order to enjoy 'Coloured Funeral' to the fullest possible degree. Mercyless on this album plays a highly abstract, verging on progressive form of death metal that reminds me substantially of a less doom-oriented form of My Dying Bride's first full-length album; it has that release's same sense of dismal and ethereal dissonance, but without the romantic underpinnings which gave that release such a confused mood. 'Coloured Funeral' is one of the more intricate releases of early '90s death metal, and it's a real shame that it doesn't receive more attention from those who claim to love oldschool death metal, as this is certainly a gem which could attract substantial love if given more exposure.
Vocally, this is greatly similar to Morbid Angel circa 'Covenant', with a similarly throaty and broad delivery, percussive without being excessively Mullenish, and helping substantially to contribute to the heaviness of an already fierce album. The drumwork is particularly notable; I detect a significant influence from Napalm Death in the rhythms and the particular viciousness with which they're played. Fast, tight, Suffocation-style hammer blasts riddle the album, contrasting with the more traditional skank and double bass bits and more experimental, cymbal-heavy sections. The rhythmic interplay established by the drums and vocals are a crucial aspect of the album- much more important than you'd generally think for death metal, which really has become substantially more riff-based as the genre has developed.
Which is not to say that the riffs here are unimportant; far from it. They simply work more closely in tandem (Morbid Angel-style) with the percussive section than usual. The riffs are an extremely mixed bag in style if not quality. Mercyless is not afraid to be ruthlessly atonal ala Deicide's 'Legion', but also willing to play with flanged clean guitar sections and some arpeggiated chord work from time to time. The result isn't absolutely 'proggy' in nature; the more abstract sections are only parts of the death metal, not the essence of the album, but they're certainly one of the major contributing elements as to what makes this release so unique. The opening riff on 'Spiral Of Flowers' tells you a lot more about this band than words ever could: that, well, spiraling and chaotic riff reminds me a lot of 'Breeding The Spawn' or other albums like it.
The closest and easiest comparison to make would probably be to 'The Erosion Of Sanity'-era Gorguts, with a similar sort of artistic bent, but this seems wholly more abstract and otherworldly than Gorguts ever was, even on 'Obscura'. 'Coloured Funeral' has a very unique atmosphere that I haven't quite heard replicated anywhere else, though bits of it shine through on occasion: some Meshuggah work, in particular, hits the same notes as this album, with tracks such as 'Sublevels' echoing a lot of the same themes as this release. The violent yet dispassionate, romantic yet disassociated mood of this release brings to mind slowly drowning in a multicolored sea or watching a sunset as nuclear missiles launch on the horizon; there's nothing like this album and I doubt there ever will be.
This is certainly a release which deserves a great deal more attention than it gets, and all the two-years-in 'oldschool death metal fans' should take note of what a real forgotten classic looks like: 'Coloured Funeral' is the sort of album which defined why oldschool death metal was unique and intelligent music. Highly recommended.
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