There are plenty of terrible songs on Suicidal Records' infamous 1985 Welcome To Venice compilation, but none quite as ass-stinkingly rancid as No Mercy's "No Mercy" and "War Machine," a pair of thrash tunes whose potentially enjoyable aspects are systematically removed, covered in urine and set on fire by the inexcusably godfuckingAWFUL vocals of Kevin Guercio, who tries to sing like a tough Judas Priest metal badass but sounds like a tone-deaf 11-year-old zipping his dick in half. So thank your country stars that Kevin and the band soon parted ways, leaving a gaping hole that only Suicidal Tendencies vocalist Mike Muir could fill. And fill so he did so, with those cool Mike Muir vocals from back when he had a rawer, tougher and less smarmy/funkee-crazee singing style.
Led by guitarist/songwriter Mike Clark and bassist/songwriter Ric Clayton (and also featuring drummer Sal Troy if you must know), No Mercy was the epitome of a generic thrash band. The mix is definitely a bit lo-fi and murky (much closer to Join The Army than How Will I Laugh Tomorrow), but the songwriting is almost hilariously by-the-numbers thrash metal. "We're Evil" and "Crazy But Proud" set the tone immediately, offering nearly identical sequences of palm-muted, lightning-speed 'jigga-jigga-jigga' chords that might as well have been assembled at random but nevertheless succeed because they're fast. The only variations from that point on are tempo-related, with the band churning out one instantly predictable chord sequence after another while alternating between three speeds: (a) thrash, (b) headbang, and (c) slow headbang. But here's the thing: this genre of music automatically rules, so unless you flub it up with a lousy singer or too many slow parts, you're pretty much guaranteed a good album.
"Wait a second Mark," I hear you protesting. "How can a genre of music automatically rule?" It's simple - by being really fast and heavy and having cool 'jigga-jigga-jigga" guitar playing. Look, this isn't my opinion; this is scientific fact. A genre of music can also automatically suck, such as by having too many slow parts or being jazz.
"Hold the phones Mark," I sense you bristling. "I thought only 15-year-olds listened to thrash music, and even then only in like 1985. Does it even exist anymore? And if so, don't I have to wear a denim jacket to enjoy it?" The answer is, of course, possibly.
Look, I'm just kidding around here, utilizing hyperbole as a whimsical substitute for insight, but I am serious when I say that certain types of aggressive, rhythmic musics affect my nervous system in a way that calmer, more mature sounds simply cannot. For example, I absolutely love The Pink Floyd and The Yes, but no record by either band will ever excite me as much as Charged GBH's City Baby Attacked By Rats. And not even a nincompoop would argue that the repetitive two-chord hooliganisms of "Time Bomb," "Sick Boy" and "Slut" are somehow superior to the groundbreaking sonic masterworks of Close To The Edge or Dark Side Of The Moon -- but if there were such a nincompoop, he would be me. This is who I am: a speed-seeking decrepit old man who gives the No Mercy album a 7 even though there isn't a clever hook on the record.
While we're on the subject, let me tell ya about white chicks - they gonna suck on some black dicks. No hang o
While we're on the subject, let me tell ya about what happened to No Mercy after this album hit the stands and sold over a dozen copies. As they were busily preparing their second opus, the rhythm section quit and ran away! Being a resourceful sort, Mike Muir responded by inviting Mike Clark to join Suicidal Tendencies -- where he remains to this very day! Never one to let the past remain in the past (see Still Cyco After All These Years), Muir then had Suicidal Tendencies learn and re-record four Widespread Bloodshed tracks ("Master Of No Mercy," "Choosing My Own Way Of Life," "Controlled By Hatred" and "Waking The Dead" -- all Muir/Clark compositions) for its own Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit...Deja Vu CD. Then, many years hence, he decided that a faceless late-period Suicidal Tendencies line-up could be mistaken for No Mercy if he replaced a single member (!?), and this line-up (embarrassingly called 'No Mercy, Fool!') re-recorded a fifth track, Ric Clayton's "I'm Your Worst Nightmare." And this has been my story of a little band from Venice, California called No Mercy.
So if you like fast drumbeats and feeling like you're hearing the same song over and over, be sure and pick up your local copy of Bloodspread Deathbed...The Bed That Eats People today!
Incidentally, it would be fantastic if there were some place on the Internet where you could read reviews of Suicidal Tendencies' discography, but Albert Gore designated those areas 'porn-only' so I guess we're ship out of luck.
Just to say that I very much enjoyed the No Mercy review and that, if you're interested, there is soon to be a vinyl release of some of their stuff with the old singer. It's being put out by a one man operation at http://www.punkrecords.com/id2.htm .