|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Mercy Rule & Rick Young|
|Record Label: R.E.X. Music||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1989||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 55%|
|Running Time: 37:57|
The members of the Michigan based band Mercy Rule began playing together in high school initially under the name AZ-IZ; however, the band did not take shape until the mid-eighties when its line up was finalized and name permanently changed to Mercy Rule. In 1988 Mercy Rule placed the track "Cities Are Burning" on the Underground Metal compilation and the following year released its full length R.E.X. Music debut Overruled. Playing energetic eighties influenced melodic metal comparable to Dokken, early Stryper and Rage Of Angels, Mercy Rule demonstrates in no uncertain terms that a lack of talent does not hold it back. The guitar team of Aaron Byrnes and George Favazza perform very capably in combining for an abundance of tight sounding dual lead guitar work. Byrnes also handles lead vocals and is a first rate talent, his voice reminiscent to Klaus Meine (Scorpions) but with elements of Michael Sweet (Stryper) and Phil St. Vincent (Eternal Ryte). The rhythm section of drummer Rich Favazza and bassist Bruce Tordrup puts in place a solid foundation for the bands sound.
A low budget production job characterized by thin and muffled sounding sonics significantly detracts from Overruled. The rhythm guitar sound is muddy and of the demo variety. Likewise, the bass cannot be distinguished, while the drums would improve with a cleaner sounding mix. The lead guitar, on the other hands, comes across crisp and clean.
Please note that the track listing on the back of the CD jewel case does not follow the order the songs are played back.
Getting the album underway to a guitar riff reminiscent to Stryper's "Makes Me Wanna Sing", "You Lied To Me" proceeds at a mid-tempo pace until it evenly flows to a chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. Byrnes and Favazza steal the show with thirty seconds of well done dual lead guitar work. "You Lied To Me" details the deceit of the evil one:
Lies and deceptions, blinding directions
Twisting the Truth, that leads to life
But now I know/You lied to me...
"Cecelia" begins to several seconds of tight sounding rhythm guitar harmony before it quickly advances to a strong melodic flavored chorus. A razor sharp guitar solo helps put over the top a song written from the perspective of God calling out to a lost soul:
You searched for love - in all the empty spaces - in all the wrong places
What did you find?
I gave You my life, I made no compromise
A pure sacrifice
To show you my love
The rhythm guitar harmony at the start of "Lonely Heart" transitions to an acoustic guitar as the song reaches its first verse. Once the rhythm guitar returns to the front of the mix midway through the second, it drives "Lonely Heart" to a brief but non-stop hook filled chorus. Byrnes and Favazza follow with forty seconds of the albums best dual lead guitar work. "Lonely Heart" talks about the need for a relationship with God:
You look good outside, fake smile with tears inside
You hide the real person in
Look at you, your living with yourself
You need a friend, you need the living King
Introduced by an edgy rhythm guitar backed by a punchy bass line, "Real Love" moves forward to a blend of keyboards and bass at the start of its first verse. The rhythm guitar rebounds hard and heavy, nevertheless, as the song reaches a smooth sounding chorus with an overriding commercial feel. The real love in question, of course, is God's love:
Love is this, He came and died for you on a cross
He shed his blood, so you wouldn't be one of the lost
"Don't Cha Know" is one of several songs on Overruled that fails to make the grade musically. Taking off to acappella vocal harmonies, the song moves ahead to a muffled blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards until it hits a wall up arriving at a weak and repetitious sounding chorus.
The guitar driven "Black And White" serves to showcase the strength of Mercy Rule's instrumental prowess. A driving riff propels "Black And White" with a plethora of energetic momentum until it culminates for a chorus delivered at a powerful upbeat tempo. Byrnes and Favazza take over with an exciting minute long dual lead guitar trade off, while they close the song to forty-five seconds of heavy duty rhythm guitar harmony. "Black And White" focuses on the need of a higher power to guide our way and help us make the correct eternal decision:
There's only one way out
Which way do I go?
I need a guiding Light
To show me the road
The acappella vocal harmonies opening the energetic "Prodigal" give way to thirty seconds of super tight rhythm guitar harmony. After the rhythm guitar moves to the forefront of the mix, it leads the way to a chorus with a huge infectious hook. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to several brief seconds of lead guitar.
"If You Only Knew", a standout Scorpions influenced metal ballad with a first class melody line, progresses to a blend of rhythm and acoustic guitar until the rhythm guitar drops from the mix upon attaining its first verse. The rhythm guitar returns in time to back a superlative chorus that, if given the opportunity, had the potential to dominate FM radio.
The straightforward hard rock of "There's A Love" fails to hold up under repeated play due to combining the albums worst production job with a chorus I might describe as average at best. George Favazza takes on lead vocal duties, and while his raspy mid-octave ranged voice is not bad, it does not stand out in the same manner as that of Byrnes.
"Stand Up On The Rock, moving in a more upbeat direction when compared to "There's A Love", is also held back by a chorus on the pedestrian side. The huge anthem like backing vocals found throughout the song end up sounding cheesy, while the same adjective can be applied to its lyrics:
Stand up on the Rock and Roll
He's the one we want to know
Stand up on the Rock and Roll
He's the one you need to know
Mercy Rule displays a ton of talent and potential on Overruled, but in order to maximize that talent and potential in question a great deal of hard work and polish would be needed. And this is where a top notch producer like David Zaffiro (Bloodgood) could have come in and helped bring out the best in the band in terms of its performance and songwriting. Musically, it does not get much better than standout tracks like "Black And White", "Prodigal" and "If You Only Knew"; on the other hand, "Don't Cha Know", "There's A Love" and "Stand Up On The Rock" reflect the bands lack of experience. What we get in the end is a poorly produced and inconsistent album that does not quite make the grade. Like many talented bands of the era, Mercy Rule released only one album and was never heard from again.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "You Lied To Me" (3:12), "Cecilia" (3:33), "Lonely Heart" (3:34), "Real Love" (3:36), "Don’t Cha Know" (3:53), "Black And White" (4:46), "Prodigal" (3:21), "If You Only Knew" (6:01), "There’s A Love" (3:10), "Stand Up On The Rock" (2:47)
Aaron Byrnes – Lead Vocals & Guitars
George Favazza – Guitars & Lead Vocals
Bruce Tordrup – Bass & Keyboards
Rich Favazza - Drums
Also Reviewed: Various Artists - Underground Metal