Planes Mistaken For Stars

Fans will call Mercy essential.

Though Planes Mistaken For Stars have been associated with the screamo movement since the quartet's inception in 1997, on the band's latest release, Mercy, it seems as though they've abandoned that scene altogether, settling for a sound that's more straight-up metal, without any of that lyrical emo love crap (at least, not as much). Lead singer and guitarist Gared O'Donnell has a menacing, gravely growl, as though he chain-smokes to warm up his vocal cords. On Mercy, the band's third full-length release, O'Donnell sings each song as if it were his last. After nine years of screaming (and smoking), just how long will it be before it causes irreparable damage to his pipes?

While Mercy overall has a very clean production, "Church Date," "Crooked Mile" and "Little Death" are definitely raw and brooding, just as pure metal should be. "Killed by Killers Who Kill Each Other" takes a page from Tool, building a despondent, hallowed murmur and dragging the melody into a shining, technical metal gem. Likewise, the closing track "Penitence" building up to an acoustic, melancholic bit that melds Tool's "Disposition" with Alice in Chains's unplugged version of "Brother." Most PMFS fans will call this their defining and the most "essential" album to date.

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