by Derric Miller
Recorded in the fall of 1989, Commandment’s No Mercy is the band’s sophomore effort, one that never saw a true release, but is now, thanks to Pure Steel Records. Commandment was a Power Metal/Classic Metal band from the Chicago area that found regional success but ultimately, as with thousands of bands, the money tree stopped bearing fruit, the label went under, and thus, the music went silent. No Mercy features the original nine tracks as well as five demo songs, for the true fans out there.
Commandment plays a blazing sort of Heavy Metal and from the opening vocal notes of “Corrupted Youth,” you’ll hear their singer David Nava is as unique as the band’s sound. If you had to compare them to anyone, early Agent Steel might go part way in defining their sound. The guitarist JR3 is a maniac, with frantic leads, solos and riffs. Everything about “Corrupted Youth” screams with the adrenaline of a pissed-off metal head, and it’s fun as hell.
“Betrayed” lets loose with a Nava scream that is high and piercing, then flows into the verses. Although the production isn’t quite there, you’ll need to pay attention to the guitar leads under the cacophony. JR3 is one talented shredder. There isn’t much in the way of sing along choruses here; Nava shows off his range with his siren screams and you will have to be reminded of early Judas Priest as well.
Commandment doesn’t change pace often; it seems they are dead-set on scorching anthems that beg you to crack a few dozen beers and scream along. “No Mercy” is one of those anthems, heavy, with bloody razor riffs and immense guitar solos.
If you are into Iron Maiden, then you’ll like the rhythmic gallop of “Voice of the Sphynx.” The chorus here is the most memorable on the CD. When Nava sings, “Speak to me, tell me your secrets,” you will have to be shouting along. It’s the strongest song on No Mercy, and makes you long for more Commandment.
Luckily, on this version, you get it, with the demos. You will notice the sound quality immediately, but this kind of music needs to be unpolished and raw as possible, so it’s not a detriment unless you are some sort of stuck-up audiophile. “Law of the Streets” certainly could have fit on No Mercy; it sounds like many of the other tracks before it. So do the songs “Fire When Ready” and “On the Attack.”
The best demos are “Ivory Tower” and “Tears of Remembrance.” On “Ivory Tower,” it’s the first time the band does any speed other than Mach 1. Nava sounds like he barely has control on parts of the album, but here, on the slower opening verse, you can hear the growth. It goes a step further on “Tears of Remembrance.” This must have been about the time Queensryche was influencing bands like Heir Apparent and hundreds of others, because you’ll hear a “Take Hold of the Flame” vibe on this track. It seems Commandment was just coming into their own when they broke up, because with the tempo changes, more intricate pacing and obvious vocal improvements on “Tears of Remembrance,” they were clearly evolving for the better.
You will never be able to go back in time and hear all the bands you should have, but in this case, you can go back and hear Commandment. And you should.
Label: Pure Steel Records
1. Corrupted Youth
3. Road to Nowhere
4. Guitar Solo
5. The Cell
6. No Mercy
7. Holding On
9. Voice of the Sphynx
10. Law of the Streets (demo)
11. Fire When Ready (demo)
12. Ivory Tower (demo)
13. Tears of Remembrance (demo)
14. On the Attack (demo)
Hardrock Haven rating: 7.6/10