|Doom Metal, Heavy Metal
Self-release, Shadow Kingdom Records (2013)
1985 / September 3rd, 2013
Release length: 36:42
One spin with The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty opens the floodgates to what represented the Heavy Metal and Doom Metal style of that generation in Los Angeles, California. The release is an odd mixture of surf-influenced falsetto-fueled Doom Metal, as if Mercyful Fate and Candlemass had a child. “The Forsaken” introduces some narration and plenty of effects to give more of an astral vibe to the release that is carried through most of the later tracks. However, it’s “Dead Ones Cry No More” that the vocals kick in, coming off more like a parody than a serious attempt. If you are a fan of Aquateen Hunger Force, think about the episode where Master Shake uses Zakk Wylde to create a new birthday song. This is kind of how the singing comes across. At first it sounds really out of place, but the further in you get the more it does start to suit the music being performed, slowly growing on you like a trippy fungus thanks to some of the psychadelic effects and guitar riffs.
“Dead Ones Cry No More” carries the falsetto style well past the four minute mark, offering a very laid back performance that offers plenty of moments to just slip away with. Some of the most powerful are about three minutes in, when the music gets richer, additional echo effects are added to the guitar, and even some to the vocals to give the sense of differing distances to what seem to be subtle howls. There are some lower vocals that act more like brief narration, wrapping the song up in a manner that gives the listener some closure to the events in the lyrics. “Arabian Nights” is a lot shorter, and a lot less psychedelic. In fact, it ends up more like Mercyful Fate than anything. There is a slight Middle Eastern touch to the guitar work, and the darker tone of the performance feeds into the falsettos surprisingly well, especially when layered towards the edge with a little more rasp to give it a surprising amount of bite.
“Victim of Environmental Change” is more of a Thrash Metal song in disguise in the beginning. The guitar work here is well done, especially with the rather impressive guitar solo that lets the bass really keep the beat alive with the rhythm guitar riffs. The vocals are mostly a traditional singing style for the first two minutes before switching into a nasal approach against a crunchy, groove-heavy Rock performance that finds the thudding bass kicks really taking over. And then there’s “The Jam Song,” which is exactly what the title says. This in no way really reflects the atmosphere laid out in any of the previous songs, and ends up catering more to the region’s surf culture. It isn’t so shocking given the prior track, “No Family, No Friends,” which comes off having a hint of Crossover in the vein of Suicidal Tendencies, another Los Angeles band active and signed by the time this album was released, but still ends up a largely Doom Metal offering without any astral, spiritual, or trippy atmospheres. The vocals are also the standard clean singing, and fit the more traditional performance a lot better than the falsettos would have.
The only downfall to The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty is that it really doesn’t have much consistency to it. From astral atmospheres, to jamming best suited to hanging ten, right down to showing extreme Mercyful Fate worship. The Mezmerist seems to do a bit too much, surprisingly not really faltering in the execution at any time other than how the falsettos sound. A little more edge to them in the earlier songs definitely would have helped, but overall they still fit the spots they are used in. It’s immediately obvious that The Mezmerist was a one-man project that had the talent to put out a truly powerful Metal album, and its a shame that it wound up spanning so many different styles here instead of focusing on one, even two, allowing the listener to get wrapped up in this Doom Metal oriented world without distractions.
But, even with all that said, Shadow Kingdom Records have definitely unearthed a crucial Metal gem. The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty is the only noted recording that Thomas Mezmercardo released, and fans of Black Sabbath will rejoice in the superb drumming done by Bill Ward. It’s also just a really interesting time capsule of what the mid-eighties down in Los Angeles, California were like in a Metal sensea, as well as cultural. Fans of the Doom Metal, as well as some lighter early Heavy Metal, really should take the time to experience The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty more than once. This isn’t something everyone is going to appreciately, but once you get adjusted to the way the falsettos are handled, anyone with a true passion for this form of music will at least appreciate the journey this time machine will take them on.
01. The Forsaken – 3:02
02. Dead Ones Cry No More – 6:59
03. Arabian Nights – 3:34
04. Victim of Environmental Change – 5:53
05. Kingdom of the Dead – 4:00
06. No Family, No Friends – 4:15
07. The Jam Song – 9:00
|Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10