Mercury Falling – Human Nature
Earlier in 2012, Mercury Falling’s Into The Void provided one of the most genuine surprises of this year with its raw mixture of German prog and power. It was only a matter of time before I started digging back in these guys’ discography, and it has turned up another gem in the sophomore record Human Nature.
Despite the gap of six years between the two albums, Human Nature doesn’t sound a whole lot different than the band’s subsequent release. Riffs are still ripping, melodies are still memorable, and the whole affair is drenched in a bittersweet melancholy. “Undertow” is a very effective opener with its progressive keyboard lines and shouting match of a chorus. Compared to the follow-up, this one is slightly more top-heavy. The first four songs all hit home hard: “Welcome Home” could be a lost Iron Savior-tune from a dark period they never had, and “New Gods” takes a few pages out of the Brainstorm-book. Not to say Mercury Falling capitalizes on the success of other acts. The influences are clear, but come into their own in the band’s signature sound of hard-edged groundwork and emotional overlays.
“Sacred Love” is about as radio-friendly as Mercury Falling will probably ever get, moving the guitars to the back and boasting a rapturous refrain. Another highlight is the unsettling “Different Eyes”, expertly underlining this band’s talented use of catchphrases (“There is no compromise!”). On Into The Void, Mercury Falling dodged the obligatory ballad, a lesson not yet learned on the predecessor. Luckily, “Hold On To My Heart” (perhaps an homage to the identically titled W.A.S.P. song off The Crimson Idol?) has a strong piano hook to drag you into the disc’s second half.
Here matters take a slight downturn. Not that there’s anything wrong with the next three tracks, but they lack some of the energy and individuality of the welcoming salvo. “Human Nature” itself picks up the slack again and is topped by another shining chorus. Why it took Mercury Falling six years to top this album, and only slightly, with the equally outstanding Into The Void, would be a good interview question, and one that I mean to ask them. For now, my listening experience of this band scores two out of two, and now I need to get my hands on the debut Panta Rhei. Don’t wait up.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 4.0 out of 5