The Mezmerist – The Innocent, The Forsaken, The Guilty
Review by Rich Price
The Mezmerist are/were a one man project from California. According to the release ‘The Innocent, The Forsaken, The Guilty is one of the most mysterious US metal releases of all time’ having taken the Shadow Kingdom a very long time to track down the man behind it (Thomas Mezmercardo), and a further five years preparing the re-release I guess they have a point.
This is a double EP released as a single package in 1985 and being re-released 30 years after the first EP was recorded.
1st EP circa 1983
Dead Ones Cry No More
Victim of Environmental Change
Tommy Mezmercardo – Vocals / Guitars
Roger Abercrombie – Bass
Bill Ward – Drums
2nd EP circa 1985
Kingdom of the Dead
No Family, No Friends
The Jam Song
Tommy Mezmercardo – Vocals / Guitars
Steve Conrad – Bass
JR – Drums
The most notable feature of this is the use of falsetto vocals, this has drawn comparison with Mercyful Fate who were active during the same time. When listening to the EP it’s clear the comparison is superficial at best, indeed many might be put off by comparison to King Diamond who’s vocal style Is like aural marmite to the ear of the metal head. This leans more towards the Rob Halford style of high range vocals, however as the time progresses this becomes noticeably absent.
The first EP consisting of the first four tracks was recorded in 1983 and is noted as it features Bill Ward as a session drummer. This was one of his absences from Black Sabbath during the turbulent 80’s. Whilst not a member of the band, Ward’s Distinctive swing style does make it impossible not to compare this to Sabbath’s earlier releases in certain places.
This is more prominent during track 2 ‘Dead Ones Cry No More’, which when you couple the distinctive vocals, with the Sabbath pacing courtesy of Ward I couldn’t help but think what might have happened if Rob Halford had ended up fronting Black Sabbath instead of Ozzy. Later on there are some quite noticeable passages of Arabian Nights, which sound similar to a slowed version of down ‘Seventh son of a seventh son’ by Iron Maiden.
This is in fact one of the dilemmas when listening to it, it sounds like quite a lot of albums you’ve already heard, possibly grew up with, and yet at the same time recorded before many of them
With the second EP however, it is quite noticeable that this is a one-man project with session musicians as there are elements where musically it’s not quite as tight as the first. It also progresses into a more noticeable heavy metal style than the first EP. A distinct shift away from the falsetto vocals into a regular singing voice is probably the biggest contrast between the two EP’s, ending with an instrumental Jam Song.
The release states this is a lost gem, and ‘by far one of the best 80’s heavy metal albums you’ll ever hear’, to be honest that is a bold claim which faces some strong competition, from the wealth of 80’s Heavy Metal albums. Claiming something to be the best album you’ll ever hear is unfortunate.
Realistically is it one of the best you’ll ever hear? No, do not be put off by the description – which is all over the internet, and therefore why I’ve addressed it – It’s actually pretty good and I’ve really enjoyed listening to it. The styles shift from song to song which means it can lacks a real identity of its own, whilst not a bad thing there’s a feeling of not quite knowing what you’re going to get next, usually associated with compilation tapes. It would have scored higher but the second EP does pull down the quality of the release notably by the end.
Is it a lost gem? Yeah I’d probably agree, after having listened to most 80’s metal albums so many times that they have rather lost that special quality of a first listen, no matter how many years you leave it between listens. It’s a relatively rare feeling to listen to something from that era for the first time and it feel new.
‘The Innocent, The Forsaken, The guilty’ is a release which with its mixture of styles manages to snapshot a period in time very well and indeed the development of heavy metal as a whole. This works best with a healthy dose of nostalgia.
Official Release date: Sep 3, 2013
You can buy the album here: http://store.shadowkingdomrecords.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=4815