My first experience with The Mercy Beat was in 2009 at the Brisbane Sounds show which was happening at the Zoo (Brisbane, QLD, Straya). It was a strange night, I’d just had an argument about rock n roll music scene politics with my now ex-girlfriend and I was all kinds of bummer about having to go out on a Saturday night.
Arriving at the Zoo 3 hours before Showtime (my ex was a volunteer for the night); I witnessed the night’s mood changer, a soundcheck from “The Mercy Beat.” These motherfuckers were a mean mix of Mastodon, Melvins and the Bronx. It was a kick in the balls that put a smile on my face and made me extremely jealous that I was not in that band. Fuck they sounded hella tight and a major roar of sludgy hardcore rock n roll. It was almost like EyeHateGod on speed. It was ugly and weird and poured a big bunch of hot liquid riffage over all that twee summer pop that seemed to be the thing in 2009. It was a heavenly moment.
Fast forward to 2012 and we now see the band preparing to follow up their extremely underrated and incredibly vital debut album “How to Shampoo a Yak.” I really thought their debut album was going to explode but like any band associated with sludge culture it only seemed to resonate with all the old crust fucks like me. Politics aside, The Mercy Beat became the hip language that people with taste mused on when talking about “the most happening thing” in the Straya music scene.
In 2013 I’m 100 per cent positive this will change and that The Mercy Beat will become one the country’s most badass and relevant rock n roll bands. The bands brand new single “Sex Funeral” is a glimpse at what we can expect from the upcoming album and it’s a sweet slice of rock n roll.
First thing you notice about “Sex Funeral” is the renewed focus on production and not just the “how it sounds” and the “tones” but that the band has been clearly working with a producer (Tom Larkin from what I have read). Add into that the natural artistic growth any decent rock band goes through and hey presto, you got yourselves a hit fucking single and this song is a goddamn hit waiting to happening.
Full of sludge and sweet shine riffage and a duel vocal attack, “Sex Funeral” makes the kind of impact that later day Mastodon does where it still manages to keep the disciplined approach of heavy metal (with hardcore and sludge overtones) but mixes it with the kind of pop skills required to make any hard rock band more than just a science project. “Sex Funeral” sounds like the bastard love child (sorry for the music journalism cliché) of Shihad and The Mark of Cain and it’s hard for me not to feel the summer loving vibes of Fu Manchu as the track rolls along. The track is the perfect length and I can hear thousands of ugly teenage boys in slayer t-shirts screaming in unison with the band at any of the summer festivals in 2013.
The Mercy Beat are very smart song writers and with “Sex Funeral” they tread the fine line of being commercially viable whilst still honouring the more underground heavy metal feel that the band is known for. It really speaks volumes about the intelligence and commitment to the riff that the members of the band have and believe me, for those who aren’t too well versed in any of the heavy metal subcultures, to truly survive and standout as a band of this genre you need to have the ability to craft music with the kind of smarts that pop musicians use. The Mercy Beat has mastered that with “Sex Funeral” and it makes you want to bang your fucking head. Regardless of the shine, they have lost none of their attack and that is so incredibly right on.
Let’s hope Ricky Kingsmill agrees because this song deserves to be added to high rotation on every single radio station Straya has to offer.
10 cassette tapes out of 10