|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1986/2011||Artist Website: Bride|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 42:18|
Bride can trace its history to 1983 and Matrix, a Louisville, Kentucky based band put together by brothers Dale (vocals) and Troy (guitars) Thompson. Matrix recorded four demos over a three year period before it got its big break: promoter Dorn Repport arranging for the group to open for Daniel Band in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. With guitarist Billy Sutherland and drummer Steve Gilbert joining Dale and Troy onstage, Matrix performed before a wild crowd of 1000, which included executive from the Refuge Music Group. While Refuge was not initially impressed with Matrix, it did catch the labels attention when the group sold out of all the tapes it brought to the show. A letter later sent by Repport to Refuge led to the label contacting Matrix and following several months of negotiations the band, now known as Bride, signed with Refuge/Pure Metal.
Show No Mercy, the Pure Metal full length debut from Bride, was released in 1986. The album was re-issued by Millennium Eight Records in 1999 with 7 bonus tracks from the bands Matrix demos. A second re-issue in early 2011 on Retroactive Records did not come with bonus material but was re-mastered and includes liner notes from Troy Thompson.
I have to confess to not being the biggest fan of eighties era Bride, which also includes Live To Die (1988) and Silence Is Madness (1989). As with many, I always felt the group hit its stride during the following decade with classic releases Kinetic Faith (1991) and Snakes In The Playground (1992). That said, you will find no lack of fans that swear by Bride’s eighties material. My thoughts? I always felt that Show No Mercy was musically the most consistent of the three, at least the only one in which I do not hit the skip button. The only drawbacks, however, come in the form of shaky production values and occasional unevenness in the vocal department (more on both of these later).
Show No Mercy can best be described as straight on metal delivering a bit more muscle than much of the “hair metal” popular at the time. The album also presents with a dark and moody vibe that at times approaches the Goth-like. Direct comparisons are problematic in that Bride has its own unique sound. In other words, Bride does not sound like anyone else because they attempt to imitate no one (I guess you could say they are similar to Bloodgood in this capacity).
Show No Mercy delivers its share of high energy pieces, including “Evil That Men Do”, “Forever In Darkness” and “I Will Be With You”. The three find Dale Thompson showcasing his high end and – at times – operatic vocal style. The results are mixed in that while it is undeniable the guy has significant talent, he presents with a few too many high pitched shrieks and falsettos for my taste. It is also a fact that Bride was rushed in the studio, a particular lending to the at times inconsistent vocal performance.
Slower pieces “Now He Is Gone” and “The First Will Be Last” reflect some of those previously referenced darker and Gothic moments while “No Matter The Price” and “Show No Mercy” bring some technical riff action. At this point it must be noted the killer guitar work of Troy Thompson and Steve Osborne. Yes, the two furnish a backbone of sturdy rhythm guitar (you will find some great guitar harmonies throughout) but it is Osborne’s phenomenal soloing - “No Matter The Price” is a good example of his shred skills - that sets the project apart. He kind of reminds me of an unrestrained Oz Fox (Stryper) or slightly out of control David Zaffiro (Bloodgood).
As already referenced, Bride was rushed in the studio during the Show No Mercy sessions (the group erroneously believed it had to meet a release date one month away upon starting the recording process). Bride also received a recording budget of just $2500. Both factors contribute towards the thin and muddy production to the original release. The re-mastering of the Retroactive re-issue, however, cleans things up significantly, with the end result a more defined bass presence and drums packing the great punch. Edgier rhythm guitar sound at the forefront as well. The re-issue comes highly recommended as a result.
Track By Track
“Evil That Me Do” is characterized by its pounding riffs and pummeling drums (or is that pummeling riffs and pounding drums?). Either way it works in that the song proves a high energy piece in which Dale showcases his trademark falsettos and screams. A calmer passage at the halfway point tapers to an audible bass line.
A slower but heavier direction can be found on “Now He Is Gone”. Somber, driven and sustained by a hulking low end, the song highlights big doses of backing vocals for its swarthy chorus while Osborne cuts loose with a blistering lead guitar run of which only he is capable.
“Fly Away” opens its first minute acoustically. The song picks up in pace at the more upbeat tempo the rest of the way, placing emphasis on a generous melody but allowing for several complementary instrumental interludes. Bloodgood almost comes to mind here. Lyric snippet:
I'm being caught away
You rapture my soul
I'm being caught away
Life will take its toll
I'm only passing through what they call life
I'll get it with or without pain and strife
He suffered once, I will too
I just hate to leave without you
“Forever In Darkness” features front to back up-tempo energy. With an underpinning bass line leading the way, the song joins hook action of the non-stop variety with a swarthy feel brought about from Dale’s haunting vocal presence (his ominous wails over the final seconds will send shivers down your spine). Lyric snippet:
Scarlet beast shall rise
And takes a deep breath
There is no heart
Under her velvet chest
Oh how sweet is death
There's no more there's no less
But for those who deny
They run to the hills and hide
Forever in darkness away from rain
Forever in darkness to wear the chains
“Follow Your Heart” brings its share of variety. The song, slowly grinding through its verses to a crunch heavy rhythm guitar, abruptly accelerates for a hi-octane chorus treading the more tempestuous path. A left turn is made halfway through for a quieter passage upheld by a classical guitar.
Some technical riff action drives the albums title track. The song starts calmly only to take off in a firmer direction once the rhythm guitar kicks in, emphasizing some amazing guitar harmonies its remaining distance but put over the top by the stately focus of its curtly done chorus. Lyric snippet:
I won't lay my weapons down to rest
I'll give it my all I'll give it my best
I will fight to win this war
Never settle for an even score
I am strong and your are weak
Jesus gives me power to defeat
I can't be bought and won't sell out
The battle cry is good and loud
“I Will Be With You” starts to a haunting, ethereal based opening. The song proceeds to gradually build momentum until taking off at a near speed metal clip, sustaining the spirited direction as Dale almost overdoes it in the high pitches falsetto department (be sure to get yourself a good pair of ear plugs!).
“Thunder In The City” rates with the albums best- a Bride classic, actually. The song begins its first minute instrumentally to a joining of swiftly flowing piano and pounding drums. The final five prove an unyielding adrenaline rush, with the band playing their tails off and exuding a ton of emotion and intensity in the process. An extra element of creativity can be found in the use of voice synthesizers.
Osborne turns “No Matter The Price” into a personal shred fest, as he decorates things with his flashy and pyrotechnical playing. The song, otherwise, is a driven cruncher giving prominence to an anthem-like atmosphere and operatic flavorings to its sublimely done chorus. It would be interesting to hear Rob Rock cover this. Lyric snippet:
No matter the price it must be paid
We stand our ground we are not afraid
Entrenched in fire he takes, never to give
He is the liar we must fight to live
Dancing in the visions of a chemical escape
A mind that's a waste land marcotic rape
Planning derision's of evil thoughts within
From inside a blackened soul
You can see the dark ones grin
“The First Will Be Last” slows things to a mid-paced romp. Hauntingly melodic, the song highlights a dark and weighty vibe, reflected in the portent feel to its chorus and bottom heavy low end. Adding to the eerie scene is some inauspicious spoken word delivery, which gives way to a run of blistering lead guitar. Lyric snippet:
Where will you be when the moon turns to blood?
When the sun won't shine and the stars fall from above
Has love taken you high or has pride taken you low
The elements are coming apart the atoms letting go
The first will be last
The last shall be first
The hungry shall be fed
While the filled will thirst
I always have enjoyed the songs on Show No Mercy- each and every one of them. And of Bride’s first three albums, this is only one in which I can say that. But despite the musical consistency, there are some misgivings in the area of production – but it must be reinforced the re-mastering helps out significantly and makes the re-issue a necessary purchase - and vocal performance. Either way, if you are interested in a nostalgic look at the Christian metal scene in its earlier days (and what was to become one of its leading players) then by all means check this out.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Evil That Men Do" (3:38), "Now He Is Gone" (3:49), "Fly Away" (4:12), "Forever In Darkness" (3:44), "Follow Your Heart" (4:29), "Show No Mercy" (3:36), "I Will Be With You" (4:29), "Thunder In The City" (5:53), "No Matter The Price" (4:18), "The First Will Be Last" (4:07)
Dale Thompson – Lead Vocals & Bass
Troy Thompson – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Piano & Violin
Steve Osborne – Guitars
Scott Hall – Bass
Stephen Rolland - Drums