Mercy Rain – You Will

Mercy Rain
You Will
1997 Springwater Records
Wenatchee, Washington, USA

Jonathan Johnson – Lead Vox, harmonica, keyboards
Tom Moser – Guitar, bass, backing vox
Darik Peet – Guitars, bass, backing vox
Owen Barnhart – Drums

Side 1:

  1. You Will
  2. Babylon Blues
  3. Sorry to Say
  4. Child Once Again
  5. The Light is On

Side 2:

  1. Lions of Judah
  2. Days Light
  3. Rocking Moon
  4. Crossroads
  5. Another Day

Yes, the cover and band name makes this look pop or even Celtic pop. But the guitars come raging in from the beginning, and you have a full on commercial metal band here. Well, still with a hint of late 90s in the first song. The next song is bit more on the heavy alternative side. The rest of the songs seem to bounce around the hard rock / alternative rock / grunge rock arena. Well, if grunge rock didn’t sound depressed – this is still more upbeat that most grunge ended up being. There are also some slower ballad and acoustic moments and songs here and there – a pretty nice mix. I think this was also released on CD as well.

Bionic Jodi – Prelude to a Disc

Bionic Jodi
Prelude to a Disc
1997 Backbone Records
Huntington Beach, California, USA

Jason E. Lohrke – Vocals, BGVs
Bob Morley – Guitars, percussion, BGVs
John Oliveria – Bass guitar, BGVs
John MacElwee – Drums, percussion

  1. Ultra Lime
  2. TDL
  3. Down
  4. 11th Floor

So after Asight Unseen dropped the “A” to become Sight Unseen, it seems the lead singer and bass player decided to drop the whole Unseen thing and go in a different direction. I remember the first two tracks from this release being on several comps back in the day (mainly “TDL” I believe). But I don’t think the full disc ever came out. Hopefully I am wrong – I would like to hear more. Being that his is alternative rock with the same vocalist as Asight Unseen, comparisons between the two bands are going to be obvious. This is mid-to-late 90s alternative rock that doesn’t veer into emo or indie rock. A few more aggressive moments like the song “TDL” seem to reach back to the times that Asight Unseen almost went metal on their first album. Not sure what happened to the band or the members after this.

Lengsel – Demo

Lengsel
Demo
1997 (no label)
Oslo, Norway

Tor Magne Glidje – Guitars, Vocals
John Robert Mjåland – Bass
Ole Halvard Sveen – Battery

  1. I det Stille er det ér Sterk
  2. Vakker
  3. Skjulte Skatter
  4. Inntil Neste Gang

This is some dark, bleak, black metal. Lengsel was eventually signed to Solid State Records to release a full-length album. That album was re-released and re-released on several different labels, so its kind of considered a classic in this genre. The sound on this demo is a bit more traditional black metal, where as the band kind of went a bit more progressive black metal on future releases. The vocals are both rough and shrill at the same time for most of the songs, with a few variations of singing or spoken word inserted here and there. Not a sound for everyone, but they are good at it if this is your thing.

Extol – Embraced

Extol
Embraced
1997 (no label)
Bekkestua, Bærum, Norway

Peter Espevoll – Vocals
Christer Espevoll – Guitars
Emil Nikolaisen – Guitars
Ole Børud – Bass
David Husvik – Drums

  1. Embraced
  2. Track II
  3. Independent

Brutal stuff! For those that don’t know, Extol was an extreme metal band that mixed elements of death metal, black metal, and thrash metal. This was their first demo, and to my ears this sounds more on the death metal side with some hints of black metal here and there. I know that the song “Embraced” made it on to their full-length debut called Embraced, but I don’t know about the other two since they have such generic names and I am not as familiar with all of Extol’s work.

The Oblivious Kids – Bombs Away

The Oblivious Kids
Bombs Away
1997 (no label)
Hillsboro, Oregon, USA

Shaun Oblivious – Vocals, guitars
Brian Oblivious – Bass, vocals
Jeremy Oblivious – Drums

  1. Responsibility
  2. First Love
  3. American Holocaust
  4. Have Another Beer

This is one of several rare tapes you can find on BandCamp. Hopefully I can get some time to review and post others. This band was a straight up gutter punk band with vocals that ride the line between bratty punk style and horror punk style. Also lots of “Oi! Oi!”s on this tape as well.  The BandCamp address made it seem like this would be a ska/punk band, but it’s not. I can’t find much else about this band online, but the tape is free to listen to and download on BandCamp:

 

Sherri Smith – Wavering Deficit

Sherri Smith
Wavering Deficit
1997 (no label)
Clyde, New York, USA

Sherri Schmitz Smith – Most guitars, lead vocals, percussion
Shawn Harnish – Some guitar parts
Scott Andrezejewski – Bass guitar on some songs
Tim Reed – Bass on all other songs
Art Ralston – Drums
Jim Hinrich – Background vocals, congas
Tim Sampson – Harmonica

Side 1:

  1. Go Away
  2. Shattered
  3. The Room Inside
  4. Please Rescue Me
  5. Dusted Angel

Side 2:

  1. When Will I Learn?
  2. What Can I Say?
  3. Be Not Conformed
  4. It’s Always Something
  5. Salsa Picante

This was a blast from the past. Well, one song at least. Sherri Smith had a couple of songs on HM Magazine CD samplers, and one of those songs (“Salsa Picante”) is on this demo. This is kind of rock/hard rock – but most of the songs have vocals on them (which I wouldn’t have guessed from the instrumental songs she placed on samplers). Some music fans describe people like Ace Frehley and Lemmy Kilmister as having “can’t sing/don’t care” vocals. That seems to be the model on some of the songs here. Sherri shows that she can sing on some songs, but when she gets aggressive it kind of falls into the “can’t sing (this style)/don’t care” model. Really, I think this demo is mostly to show off Sherri’s guitar skills, which it succeeds at.

The Israelites – Israelite Train

The Israelites
Israelite Train
1997 (no label)
California, USA

Peter Trusty – Lead vocals, percussion
Richard Carlstedt – Guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals, percussion
Jackieblu Carlstedt – Keyboards, organs, backing vocals
Jennifer Villarreal – Drums, percussion, backing vocals
Ginger Reyes – Bass
Allen Trammell – Tenor sax, suprano sax
Justin Bernadino – Alto sax, keyboards
Gabriel Sundy – Trombone, baritone sax, chicken cluck

  1. Israelite Train
  2. By Your Side
  3. Jah Jah
  4. The Resurrection
  5. Over the River

If you remember the ska craze of the 90s, you probably also remember it being referred to as “third wave ska.” Bands like the Israelites were part of the first and second waves. So there is no punk rock influence on this demo. You still have the heavy island reggae influence here, with a large horn section. However, they are all playing to make music and mood rather than a mosh pit. I don’t know enough about earlier waves of ska to have much more to say on this, other than this is the type of ska for people that got sick of third wave ska back in the day.