This is a split between two French Death Metal bands, Crusher and Mercyless.
Both veterans of the French scene, Crusher open up proceedings with four songs, 14 minutes of high-energy Death Metal.
The songs are unashamedly Old-School, with a suitable sound to go along with it. Simple and effective, the riffs and drums pound out unfashionable rhythms while the singer shouts himself hoarse.
Featuring Death Metal that’s concerned with basic structuring and covering the needs of the song first and foremost, it seems that the split is appropriately titled as this really is like stepping back in time about 20 years. This is, of course, not a criticism.
These songs are all about the riffs, and some of the band’s grooves are almost Hardcore in nature, recalling Old-School German band Ryker’s in some respects.
It’s hard not to like music this atavistic and Crusher’s songs are both enjoyable and pleasing.
The second half of the split is Mercyless; another four songs, (one of them a live track), 16 minutes of solid Death Metal carnage.
Mercyless’ music also has an Old-School slant, but this is mixed in with more of the timeless Traditional Death Metal style.
These songs are more layered than Crusher’s stripped back approach. Faster and fuller than their fellow countrymen, Mercyless also have an air of the occult about them that seeps into parts of the songs like a malignant evil.
Mercyless have a collection of stonking riffs here, although they’re more wrapped up in mood than Crusher. There’s also lots of solos, which I heartily approve of.
It’s really interesting comparing these two bands, as both are very strong on their own merits and share similarities despite their differences. Which I prefer depends on my mood. Crusher’s 90s simplistic riff-heavy approach is catchy, energetic and nostalgic, whereas Mercyless have a more well-rounded and holistic approach that I prefer at other times.
Ultimately though, this is confident music played by people who know what they’re doing and how to do it well; this is a quality release from two very good Death Metal bands, and I urge you to check it out.