With the untimely death of Andrija Veljaca in 2005, the legacy of Swedish metal pioneers Mercy was sealed and secured. Mercy are among those few bands which explored and conquered multiple styles of metal. Guided by Veljaca, the only consistent member of the band, Mercy began as a youthful, raging Heavy Metal outfit before shifting toward a heavier doom sound by the mid-1980s. Indeed, for many unfamiliar with Mercy’s early material, the band is most commonly associated with its doom-laden offerings, particularly the 1985 album “Witchburner” featuring Eddie “Messiah” Marcolin on vocals, who later achieved greater fame for his work with Candlemass. Mercy’s often overshadowed Heavy Metal-era deserves greater attention, however, and with this series of reissues, licensed from TPL records, NWN! honors the legacy of Veljaca and Mercy by making this material available again, most of which has not been repressed on vinyl since the 1980s. In addition, NWN! has endeavored to commit to vinyl demo material and other rarities that are out of print or have never previously been released on record.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sweden had one of the most fertile Heavy Metal scenes in the world. An unassuming 7” EP released in 1978 by the band Horoscope would prove to be a pivotal moment in the development of Sweden’s music scene, and notably it was due to the contribution of a non-Swedish member of the band. The two songs on the Horoscope EP, “Come to Me” and “Gryningen” are catchy but straightforward hard rock tracks; however, the record marked the first recorded appearance for Andrija Veljaca, the band’s singer and guitarist. Horoscope hailed from Sölvesborg, a tiny port town in the southern part of Sweden, but Veljaca was originally from Croatia and had only recently moved to Sweden. For the other members of Horoscope, that EP would be their first and last foray into hard rock or heavy metal music, but for Veljaca, it was just the beginning. By 1981, Veljaca fell in with members of a band called Turbo, who released a 7” EP called “Nattens Barn” the previous year. Turbo’s music was more visceral, fueled by angst and juvenile aggression. Veljaca joined the band following the departure of Turbo’s guitarist, Håkan Jacobsson, and they changed their name to Mercy. In 1981, the band entered Asarum's Studio in Blekinge, Sweden and recorded a handful of tracks. Although the songs were occasionally used for demos, they remained essentially unreleased for the next two decades. In 1982, Mercy released its first vinyl record, a 12” MLP boldly titled “Swedish Metal.” The band, then operating as a trio consisting of “Andree” Veljaca on guitar and vocals, accompanied by Paul “Judas” Gustavsson on drums and Christian “Chris” Karlsson on bass, released the record on a label called Metal Shock—the only record the label ever put out. The five tracks on “Swedish Metal” are primal and impassioned; vigorous, raw Heavy Metal without refinement or finesse. Among the many phenomenal contemporaneous records released in Sweden around that time, “Swedish Metal” clearly stands out. This reissue marks the first time that this seminal recording has been made available on vinyl in over 35 years. Additionally, this reissue includes as bonus material the Session 1981 tracks that NWN! released as a 7” in 2007.
- J. Campbell
released June 30, 2018
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