Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merciless - The Treasures Within (1992)

The Treasures Within is the sophomore effort from Sweden's Merciless. Though recorded in 1991, its release was delayed until late 1992. At a time when many bands were following up with a new album each year, things like this may have contributed to the fact that Merciless ended up being much less known than many of their inferior peers. However, punctuality was not the only problem that plagued this record.

The production does not suit Merciless, at all. Despite the material possessing a more pronounced Death Metal vibe, it was a mistake to opt for such a sound. The guitars lack the raw and overpowering feeling that was present on The Awakening. This is not for a lack of intense riffs, but simply due to the poor mix. Rather than the guitars dominating and possessing the power to reach out and tear you limb from limb, it comes off as rather restrained. The drums are a little too loud and sound less powerful, for some reason. The overall sound is kind of similar to Tiamat's Sumerian Cry, but they did not go for the total Swedish Death Metal production with buzzsaw guitars and so on.

The arrangements are much more complex than on The Awakening. While there are a great number of similarities, The Treasures Within is really a completely different entity. While the album is still built on top of a foundation of Kreator-inspired thrash riffs, the songwriting is less straightforward and includes a lot of mid-paced Death Metal riffs. There are a lot of tempo changes, something that was less prevalent on the first record. The atmosphere is less aggressive, which is quite clear on the re-recorded version of "Dying World". Rogga's vocals are still as venomous as ever, which is one of the best things about this L.P. Between the throat-shredded vocals and the leftover thrash parts, this record is still easily enjoyable, albeit to a lesser degree.

The Treasures Within is a solid record, though it fails to reach the same level as its predecessor, due to the combination of less consistent songwriting (or a shift in style) and the odd production. Had Merciless maintained their thrash-heavy style and avoided the growing Death Metal trend, they may have made more of an impact with this album. Either way, it is worth picking up.