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The band bio on Mercy Ties's Facebook page begins with: "We still love the music you liked in 2002."

Accurate for more than one reader of this site, I suspect. Like fellow Seattlites Great Falls, Mercy Ties play the kind of contorted, noise rock-indebted metalcore that was huge about ten years ago. This niche produced a lot of good music between roughly 1995 and 2005, at which juncture it hit its saturation point and lost its cachet. Fans abandoned it in droves. Many people now consider this style an embarrassing relic. So it goes with the novelty-obsessed world of rock music.

But despite the loss of standing, people still ply this trade. Mercy Ties do it quite well on A Dim Lit Place. Their press sheet namechecks Botch (inevitably, given their hometown), but their pacing and delivery are far more frenetic. "The Gauntlet" is the kind of song that takes an hour or two to write on guitar but a month in the practice room to really finish. It's basically through-composed. Two-steppy fast parts stand in for verses while grooves mimic choruses, but nothing ever really repeats — you're just jerked from part to part for ninety seconds. This stuff satisfies primarily on the brainstem level, like a bodily function. You feel it coming for a moment, and then it's happening; when it's over, you feel better, though it's hard to articulate why. The Mercy Ties effect is aided by a roomy mix and a mastering job that mercifully does not redline the way many of their touchstones did.

Acts like Mercy Ties used to be too common. Though the population was culled, it never disappeared. Now this style appears to be making a comeback of sorts. Has any branch of heavy music ever truly died out? Though we are all dead in the long run, even unapproachable niches like this noisy-metalcore stuff tend to endure in some form or another in the short-to-medium term. It's a comforting idea, if you're a musician. Everyone wants to be remembered. While your voice may fade, the conversation you chimed into carries on.

A Dim Lit Place comes out on December 17. You can preorder it here. Mercy Ties also have more music available on their Bandcamp.

— Doug Moore

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