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Mercaptan - Shadows of the Cross

Shadows of the Cross
by Leanne "Metal Maiden" Evans at 20 October 2021, 11:18 PM

The New Wave of Thrash has seen a magnificent revival in recent years and is an exciting scene to be involved in, with plenty of gritty, talented thrashers gracing our ears and delivering well-channelled aggression in fistfuls, ultimately creating a sub-genre of metal that is saturated in exceptional bands; us thrash monsters are spoilt for choice right now and, boy, is it a great place to be! There’s little room for poor quality when the thrash realms are teeming with talent and the stakes are high, and it does, unfortunately, mean that if a band doesn’t quite hit the spot, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

Romanian thrashers MERCAPTAN, unfortunately, are sadly placed in the “miss” zone for me. Initially established as a solo project in 2020, MERCAPTAN have grown into a trio over the last few months. The thrash classics are cited as influences, although the only vein of classic influence is the overt imitation of METALLICA that courses through their debut album, “Shadows of the Cross”. Rather than showing flair for executing some inspiration from one of the biggest names in thrash, MERCAPTAN merely rip off the big boys, sadly resulting in an obvious lack of cohesion, little synergy and no real opportunity to explore the depth of the band’s abilities. From the prolonged and disengaging “Lifeline” as a poor opener to the album, through to the one-dimensional monotonous ending to the LP in the form of “Suicide Mission”, and all the mediocre bland bits in-between, there is little substance to an essentially weak record.

With such an uninspiring blend of tracks, it’s very difficult to pinpoint the stronger contributions to this album. The cuts are slow to spark, often with intros that don’t hold much appeal, feel unnecessarily lengthy and often lead to the cacophonous, lending to an album that omits strong, standout tracks to get the listener hooked into. However, there are some sporadic redeeming elements – they really are very few and far between – where there is great potential for MERCAPTAN, although they rarely ignite. The leads on “Train of Consequence” and “The Day I’ll be Free” are possibly the best examples of a whiff of potential, although they’re not always executed with the conviction needed, but there is a glimmer of hope. Speaking of “The Day I’ll be Free”, this has so much potential to be a great track, yet the synthetic sound and inhuman nature of the programmed drums, the poor mix and caterwauling vocals detract from anything vaguely positive. This really wasn’t the first time I felt let down listening to “Shadows of the Cross”.

Of the nine tracks featured on “Shadows of the Cross”, not one captivated (which, as a hardened thrasher, really dented my soul), and the longing for the MERCAPTAN experience to cease was very real. Plenty of fledgling bands are influenced by the “Big 4”, hell, even EVILE’s beginnings were as a literal METALLICA tribute band, but those guys quickly forged their own identity and, well, the rest is history. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dropping a few familiar chords from the monster riffs of the big guns, but everything needs to be executed with crispness, substance and going balls-deep with solidarity in your own identity, none of which MERCAPTAN do. Plainly speaking, these guys are a poor imitation of METALLICA. Nothing more, nothing less. They’re a young band, but age presents no barriers, I mean, look at the young blood TORTURED DEMON and just how much they’ve rocked the thrash boat in the last year! And the use of programmed drums? Well, that needn’t be an issue either; take ELIMINATION and their latest release, they’re a drummer down, yet the mixing, mastering and how they’ve incorporated the drums are so on point that they effortlessly merge into the rest of the instrumentation. As painful as it is to be so scathing about a band’s efforts, MERCAPTAN have big boots to fill joining the NWOTM. Their release feels sloppy and ill-considered, lacking real musicianship, whilst the production and mastering offer no depth and feel quite mono, lending to a tinny output, compounding an already downright dreadful listen.

According to Wikipedia, “Mercaptan” is described as being a “colourless gas with a distinct putrid smell… a natural substance found in the blood, brain and faeces of animals.” Sadly, the only element MERCAPTAN live up to in their namesake is, well, the faeces bit. Avoid.

Songwriting: 4
Musicianship: 5
Memorability: 4
Production: 3

2 Star Rating

1. Lifeline
2. Train of Consequence
3. The Day I’ll be Free
4. Welcome the Apocalypse
5. Abortion
6. The Unmendable
7. Addiction, Suicide
8. The Dead Redeemer
9. Suicide Mission
Zoltan Kovacs – Vocals and Guitar
Richard Andrei – Lead Guitar
Gliga Alin – Bass
Programmed Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 27 January 2023

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