MERCYLESS, Mundo Enfermo (2012, KTC Domestic Productions)

The skull:
Seriously, how many album covers are just skulls photoshopped into brown, crumbling, plaster walls? Half of them? More? Mercyless clearly recognize that they’re working with a threadbare motif, which is why they added the clown wig. At least, that’s how I’m choosing to interpret the weird corona around the skull. Mundo Enfermo translates to Sick World, and as Patch Adams taught us, laughter (plus clown paraphernalia) is the best medicine.

The music:
Mercyless are basically the Spanish equivalent of Hatebreed, which is to say, they’re a hardcore band that also likes Slayer, but only kinda. They like the fast parts with the double bass and the riffs that are mainly just 16th notes on the open low string, but the tricky riffs or anything played on the skinny strings, they don’t care for. Lyrically, Mercyless are riled up like a political grindcore band, at least as far as I can tell with my limited Spanish, but they have a video that’s basically all footage of riots and burning police cars, and that’s alright. This is not something I ever need to hear again, but if you love Biohazard, hate the ECB, and speak Spanish, then this might be your jam.
— Friar Johnsen


SUICIDAL HOLD, Suicidal Hold (1998, self-released)

The skull:
This guy killed himself by digging a hole next to a wall and then pulling the dirt back in on himself, leaving only his head exposed. It took days for him to die of thirst. Plenty of passers-by offered to help, tried to comfort him, but he always refused, and was so eloquent in making his suicidal case that no one argued with him or sought to dig him out against his will. In fact, so moving was his story that many of the people who spoke with him in his final days return periodically to the spot, where his now fleshless skull still remains, and drop a single rose in his memory, I guess because his sadsack story was all about how his girlfriend dumped him at the prom while they were dancing to “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, then she married some singer from a local grunge band and had a couple kids or something. Whatever. The dude was a poser for liking Poison and the world is better off without him.

The music:
The Gods of the Skull must be smiling on me at the end of my vacation, because my last two skulls have completely eluded me, musically. This is supposedly thrash, and with a name like Suicidal Hold, I’m more than willing to believe that, but as they’re also Italian, the likelihood that they were any good is pretty slim. I mean, I like Bulldozer as much as the next guy, but let’s be honest: Italy has never been a thrash metal hotbed. But, who knows? Maybe they were just too good for 1998, when power metal was ascendant and the rethrash craze was nearly a decade away. Maybe they were totally killer, but the scene just wasn’t ready for them, and they broke up after this one amazing EP. Anything’s possible, we tell ourselves.
— Friar Johnsen