Critical Voices: Mother of Mercy, IV: Symptoms of Existence

February 10, 2011

Philadelphia metallic-punk outfit Mother of Mercy is not for the faint of heart. MoM, as the band has affectionately been nicknamed, delivers a distinct blend of straightforward hardcore punk and darker, brooding rock sounds influenced by the likes of Danzig and Samhain. After years of creating impressive music and touring with punk forefathers such as Agnostic Front and Sick of It All, last year Mother of Mercy signed with premier hardcore and punk label Bridge 9 Records.

The fruit of this signing is MoM’s second full-length record, IV: Symptoms of Existence. Recorded at the famous Studio 4 just outside of Philadelphia, IV features some of MoM’s best material to date. Enormous, chugging guitars drive the tracks forward, while intermittent lead lines lend a dose of unexpected melody. The music is also undeniably groovy, with the wrecking ball drums—think Keith Moon meets Dave Grohl in 1988—often giving way to interesting, syncopated riffs and rhythms, like on its standout track “Control.”

But MoM is at its best on tracks like “World of Pain” and “Swinging the Chain,” where they build the tension to an almost unbearable crescendo, only to unleash a thunderous break or chorus. But even amidst such potentially overpowering instrumentation, vocalist Bob Wilson delivers a stellar performance. His impeccably raspy howls elevate the tracks from heavy to truly gut-wrenching, and his personal lyrics tell the familiar story of human frustration and lack of control.

Clocking in at only 24 minutes, Symptoms of Existence hits like a punch to the stomach from start to finish, and is a great testament to the growth and health of alternative music in 2011. Those brave enough to dive in will be rewarded with a record that delivers some of the most powerful, well-written and unabashedly honest music in recent memory.

Voice’s Choices: “Forever Night, Forever Mourning,” “Swinging the Chain,” “Control”

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