Sound — 7
It is always a little bit puzzling when bands that obviously have talent and ability end up producing songs that just don't sound that inspired. On Mercy Fall's debut offering, For The Taken, the band fluctuates too often between moments of melodic creativity and uninspired radio rock. Vocalist Nate Stone, guitarist Jeff Lusby, bassist Kieran Smiley, and drummer Ethan Rea all display their respective musical talent at different places on For the Taken, but the songwriting just does not offer a unique enough take on rock. A few tracks give a sense that the four-piece might be onto creating an original sound, but that feeling is just not consistent enough to be thoroughly memorable. Insurmountable is a satisfying rock opener, complete with nice contrasts in the main vocal line and a driving rhythm. But guitar-wise, there is not much that stands out from the crowd. Guitarist Lusby injects nice little licks here and there in Insurmountable, but they are few in number. Vocalist Stone does, however, prove that he has a pleasing vibrato that almost sounds like the American version of Japanese sensation Gackt. One of the best offerings on the CD is Hangman, which utilizes the guitar riff skills perfectly. With an intro featuring a bluesy, grooving riff, it immediately captures the listener's attention. To cap it off, Lusby offers an old-school, high-speed guitar solo recalling some of the great classic '80s rock tunes. From there, the CD begins to lose its energy and focuses much of its time on ballads -- which is not always a bad thing. Although Worth showcases a nice rhythmic guitar intro a la Tool, most of the other slower tracks on For the Taken don't do much more than your run-of-the-mill rock ballad that radios love to put on their playlist. In Doubt also is a basic slow-tempo tune, and just does not give the necessary heart-wrenching punch that classic ballads are able to do. Eventually, the band redeems itself once more with its closing tune No More Silence. The intro is truly intriguing and once again revolves around an unusual rhythm, while at the same time, giving a much-needed showcase of each instrument. These boys can play their instruments, it's just too bad they aren't give more of a chance to prove it on the CD.
Lyrics — 8
Mercy Fall will likely appeal to fans of rock ballads, if only for the emotionally open lyrics in many of its songs. The words are basic essentially, often focusing on those universal human feelings: love, anger, pain, and fear. The band is not afraid to show its sensitive side, which is apparent in many of the ballads. In Here I Am Stone sings, Why do I choose to fear; When I can feel this love; I know we're beautiful; I've seen our perfect scars; Don't wanna be alone. There is not much new in these thoughts, but there is always an audience for song of the heart -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The tunes that aren't love songs are written somewhat oddly, offering unusual visual images always make the best sense. In Hush the lyrics state, Tears for candy; Whitewashed windows; Keep it holy; Keep it queer. It could be taken for interesting free verse, but even so, it just doesn't mesh with most of the other lyrics on the CD.
Overall Impression — 8
There is hope for Mercy Fall, who every once in a while proves they are very musically talented. But on For the Taken, the band members just don't give themselves enough opportunities. The best of the best on the CD, Hangman and No More Silence, are interesting in their construction and deserve particular attention. The sad thing is that radio stations will likely give No More Silence a backseat to a song like Here I Am, a ballad that does not really offer anything new or musically intriguing. Depending on who the band would like as a fan base, this could be a good or bad thing. Creatively, they should not be afraid to experiment, particularly when they have the musical talent to do so. Who knows, that experimentation could create the perfect rock-ballad hybrid.