DOCTOR MIDNIGHT & THE MERCY CULT – I Declare: Treason

When Hank von Helvete abruptly and quietly quit Norwegian death punk gods TURBONEGRO in 2010, it shocked and saddened fans. And with the same suddenness he is back with a new band, DOCTOR MIDNIGHT & THE MERCY CULT. This super group also features ex-members of APOPTYGMA BERZERK, CADAVER, EXTOL, KMFDM, and MARILYN MANSON. Their sound is straight up metal with a mean, dark, and brooding edge.

It doesn’t take much to discern that the theme of I Declare: Treason deals with very personal issues such as betrayal, disillusionment, revenge, misunderstandings, redemption, and broken relationships. There’s no doubting that Hank is singing from the heart.

I Declare: Treason is quite diverse in its metal riffing. It’s a seamless blend of classic and contemporary thrash, death metal, and black metal that doesn’t seek to blow the listener apart with speed or heaviness. I Declare: Treason is not necessarily about being hard hitting, immediately gratifying, or extreme either. Instead the band focuses on strong riffs, hooks, muscular grooves, and spacing. Credit must certainly be given to this veteran line-up.

Hank von Helvete lays down, perhaps, his most soulful and diverse vocal performance here (i.e. “Ok (We’re Just About to Die)“). His vocal lines fit in with whatever the song calls for instead of being a one trick pony. His hardcore punk background also helps to inject some attitude that is often missing from other bands.

Taken as a whole, the album hits its stride often with some less potent songs in the mix. Stylistically, it may take some time to adjust to the band’s unique style but it’s definitely worth it. If you can get the digipak version which contains two bonus songs, go for it. I Declare: Treason is a damn good debut album that may be one of the year’s best releases. They got the snarling attitude and the songs to back it up. (Season of Mist)