Looking at the press shots for Mercury Tide, the revitalised vehicle for former Angel Dust vocalist Dirk Thurisch, it is fair to say that the band have more than a touch of the theatrical about them. Initially formed in 2002, the band unleashed just one album, the well-received ‘why?’ before splitting up and the members heading their own ways. However, following the demise of Angel Dust, Dirk has reunited his former comrades for an album that crackles with energy and packs a stadium sized punch that will have pop/metal fans reeling with the blow.
Opening gambit, ‘the shame of trust’, is a piano piece which suggests an emotionally-charged ride through shamelessly engorged power metal is ahead of us, a notion which is confirmed when the title track, ‘killing saw’ bursts out of the speakers like a furious cross between Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and Therion, the latter band being a particular influence on this melodic, metallic assault. Certainly Dirk has a fine voice for this sort of thing, whilst the band rely on the sort of rapier-edged pop melodies that will have fans frothing at the mouth. It is an epic sound that they aim for – somewhere between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Def leppard – and over the course of ten more furious tracks they put themselves firmly at the head of the melodic metal pack.
Having set out the ground work, ‘home’ ups the ante with a grinding guitar riff that is part Iron Maiden part Sabbath, whilst Dirk’s voice soars over the top. With a heftier kick to it than the first track, you can almost feel the band building up their head of steam as guitars snarl, solos ripple out and the chorus hits a rich vein of melody that will have you singing along, whether you want to or not, well before the song draws to a close. ‘Searching’ is equally immense, cruising in on a guitar riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Velvet Revolver album. It’s premium quality, heavy rock and Dirk’s voice aside the man also peels out some blistering solos to contend with. ‘World of pain’, however, truly is Dirk’s shining moment in the spotlight as he belts out a vocal that is pure Dio over an acoustic guitar in a bravura performance that will surely impress any metal fan who chances upon it. It’s one highlight of many on this impossibly packed album, a ballad that knows exactly how to pack a powerful punch and a perfect showcase for Dirk’s remarkable abilities. Follow-up track ‘lord of memories’ is no less emotive, with a memorable chorus and fine riffs but it is ‘out of the darkness’ that takes you by surprise with a verse stolen straight from eighties stadium pop – it could almost be U2 – yet a chorus that recalls a lighter take on Heaven and Hell’s ‘the devil you know’ album with its crunchy guitars and multi-tracked vocals.
Touching on clichés traditionally best left alone, ‘alone in my room’ is far better than its title might suggest, with lyrics that are well thought out and beautifully delivered (of course) and a guitar solo that lights up the bridge like a beacon, before the lung-busting chorus takes over and you can’t help but join in so utterly, ludicrously over the top is the delivery, and yet bursting with life and enthusiasm, that it is delightfully infectious. Make no mistake, this is music designed for stadiums and huge audiences and, with a band this talented, you can’t help but feel that it deserves to be there. Speaking of stadiums, ‘Satan sister’ is another mind-blowing, pop-inflected anthem that works by melding the familiar trappings of eighties stadium-rawk with the band’s own distinctive, metallic edge to craft a sound that is as compelling as it is irresistible. ‘You cannot save me’ is a turbo-charged ballad that, bizarrely, sounds like Def leppard covering Soul Asylum – hard to imagine, I know, but it works remarkably well – and the juxtaposition between Sim Reaper’s keys and Dirk’s guitars builds the melody without either overwhelming the other. It’s a classic sounding track, but given the remarkable ability of Mercury Tide to make all their tracks sound as if they’ve been in your collection for years, it amazingly doesn’t stand out as a highlight such is the overall quality of the record. ‘No more pain’ is another track that sounds like a beefed up U2 (minus the horrendous vocal posturing of Bono) and, again, it’s a sound that works brilliantly in this context, the stadium-sized chorus once again dragging you kicking and screaming along with it. The album’s closer is ‘have no fear’ and, like all those that have gone before it, it is a pop/metal dream, acoustic guitars and keyboards both present and correct and a vocal line that melts in the mouth without rotting the teeth.
If you like melodic metal then Mercury Tide must surely be an essential addition to your collection. The band have the uncanny knack of imbuing such power in their songs that the record sounds not like an album so much as a greatest hits collection and lesser bands must surely dream of writing a collection of songs as thrilling as this. The icing on the cake is the band’s distressing array of talent, and Dirk’s voice is rightly advertised as a key selling point as the man can range from gentle croon to full on Dio roar at the drop of a hat. In the hands of a lesser act, the many elements here might sound cheesy or disparate, but in the masterly care of Mercury tide, ‘killing saw’ attacks the stage with the professional grace of Freddie Mercury in his prime, and with a similar gift for combining the arena filling and the straight-out rock to grand effect. A fantastic release, then, that deserves your undivided attention before the entire world picks up on it.