The Mercer Files

"I’ve been making copies of certain records I have been selling recently, and while I decided to have a massive clearout there were some items which are sacred. Armed guards patrol the Ataraxia collection and the Dancing Did bootlegs. Of the current UK bands I’d have to say that I regard the individual work of AD, HOG, Zombina and SBA as something which needs to be kept together, the audio equivalent of a wine cellar. Together it grows in importance. Characters, making music of character. Isn’t that what it’s all about?" - Mick Mercer

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Spice Girls EP
Whitby Promo
Flashes Of Light LP
Flashes Promo CD
The Mirror Pond EP
Disconnect EP
Enough Is Too Much
Spice Girls EP: When You Don't Matter / Slice Up Your Wife / Forever (2009)
We need a constant drip-feed of HOG material between albums so this is a blessing, as are the assurances of more albums as I can never tell from Max’s journal whether the band has split or still exists. It’s all quite alarming! ‘When You Don’t Matter’ instantly reminds you of how they conjure up a fetid mood, through angry rumbling lyrics spouted by prematurely weary vocals, over a bed of rhythmical nettles that stirs, slurs and takes you down the drain with it when it’s finished. Inspired by Del’s preference for obscenely short Union Jack dresses (Entire Nation: “My eyes, my eyes!!!”) ‘Slice Up Your Wife’ is probably the best Spice Girls cover they could abuse, like a conga in Hell constantly dancing to Chic’s greatest hits. ‘Forever’ is a glorious noir tincture of gloom and splendour, the sensitive synths and metallic percussive rustling combining behind the woe-bedecked vocals to create a post-Twin Peaksy wheeziness that highlights the other side of HOG from the mania, which is the tragic beauty of their dreamier music. It’s free. What are you waiting for?

It's Easy / Exhaust Fumes / Exhaust Fumes (remix) (2008)


Empty Eyes / ...But I'll Be Waiting (2008)


ACEDIA (2008)
Imagine you’re on a ghost train ride, and realise as it starts moving that you’re sitting next to Jack The Ripper. Ready?

‘Welcome to the world, little cunt…’ is History Of Guns’ way of saying hello, on a level which rivals anything Big Black did in the way of unsettling music so blatantly in your ace it’s like musical cosmetic surgery. ‘Oh wipe that look of wonder off your face, your purity disgusts us…’ they continue as the guitar streams like piss into your ears, and the winking, twinkling electronic prettiness is revealed as starving rats wearing tutus swarming over your pinioned honey-daubed limbs. Which just leaves room for me to clarify that when previously comparing their rapacious wit and energy to Alien Sex Fiend in their pomp, or the wavering dementia of both the vocals and their rhythmical prowess to PIL in their Metal Box splendour I haven’t simply been talking about similarities in sound. History Of Guns are actually as good, and vigorously different, as those bands. Now they’ve simplified their approach with this album it’s time for you to appreciate the time bomb you’ve been sitting next to all these years.

In a perfect world Max and Del would have their own cop show by now, a bit like The Sweeney, only geared towards utter incompetence.
Constable Earnest: The postmistress over there discovered the body. We’ve taken a statement and started door-to-door.
Inspector Del: PISS OFF!
Forensic Doctor Sultry: By the warmth of the body I’d say death happened recently, maybe an erotic liaison cut short?
Inspector Max: I’m wearing a tuxedo.
FDS: Very dashing.
i-Max: It says WANK on the back.

Yes, they have seedy humour, and a sense of derangement, but as an ingredient it’s always matched by a precocious sense of musical adventure and even they’ve moved towards a conventional approach here while remaining preposterously clever. So the opener ‘Born, Brutalised, Bought Then Buried’ is a scathing, festering sore of a song, with a basic and quite unnerving approach smashed effectively over your head, then more furtive brilliance wriggles through the stumbling ‘It’s Easy (To Go Blind)’, lightly laboured vocals and a shuffling fluidity keepings things perverse but involving. HOG ideas will often be less than seductive, but you’re still pulled in, as ‘…But I’ll Be Waiting’ demonstrates, a wiry edgy shape stalking across a sweet, picturesque landscape, blessed with perfumed melodic touches. One of the most consumptive pop entities you will encounter this, or any other, year it holds true to their central quality; you just don’t know what they’re really capable of. You have no idea where they’re going to take you.

They ease surreptitiously into the slow motion strafing of ‘Exhaust Fumes’ with its talk of a carefully planned aborted suicide and congested, gruesome details. They may be treading water slightly, but it is a piranha tank, so go easy on them. ‘What Have They Done To Us?’ comes lurching out of the Batcave like Billy Idol has inherited the costume, aged ninety. (Strangely, Alfred is still there.) As brawny as it is capricious, the paranoia is made playful, and tails off with no real impact, while the juddering ‘Never Forgive You’ seems a woozy imbecile with its scampering chorus but actually it’s just ludicrously catchy throughout.

‘No Eternal Reward’ is slightly crunchier, Del sounding like the Ancient Mariner stranded inland. It’s got a step in its springs, as it rains down misery, and it’s strangely short. ‘Empty Eyes’ boasts a mercurial torrent of invigoratingly bouncy nuances in another sodden feast of sounds covered in brilliantly vivid scars, while ‘Drag On’ has a chilled beauty, in its own way, as intoxicating as its is somehow elusive.

Proving it isn’t all bleak they close with ‘Killing Myself Until I Die’ which is a jaunty accelerant, as gloomy as it is scrupulously daft which is a fitting end to a riotous ride, because I don’t think anybody, least of all the band, is ready for them to totally hit the euphoric union of sound and vision just yet. With the album they have made gigantic strides, like a giraffe’s tailor, in honing some of their ideas and it is frequently superb. It seems a bit normal in the middle, but that’s only by their standards (weird idea No. 93: History Of Guns have standards!) and this is a skilful, well-appointed springboard.

Next album: you’ll believe a band can fly.

EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS? What do you think? Short of the electronic brouhaha kicked up that naughty Deathboy (any album news?), there is no-one in the UK capable of unleashing a high pedigree sonic firestorm like the HOG boys, although their worrying mental disturbance does indicate that they have been taken to locations they can no longer remember, recorded under duress, and there is clear evidence Del has been tortured. (Good.)
That said, will History Of Guns always be placing themselves outside of sense? There are several styles going on once again, but before these were linked by the strength of the textures in the music and its enveloping atmosphere. Here everything is pretty much stripped back, leaving us with a precarious stepping stone arrangement. Hop from Indie to Punk, into beat mashups, and on to ambient nightmare.
‘Death Of A Nation’ has serious melodic intent rotating behind the madman vocals as they batter some dark indie feelings with excited friction as good as anyone like ooh, a happier Joy Division? The fact you have nervously squeezed, jabbering alliteration gurgling in the foreground is neither here or there. It’s the song in total which matters and this is a mature blend turned upside down, then into ‘Your Obedient Servants’, the best Punk song since the 80’s, like Shaft meets the Mockney Rejects, a masterly rumble you’ll be punching the air and roaring along with. It’s the law.
‘I Am/You Are’ is ragged and raw and rockier, rattling along with some supreme gargling, but also shyer, idling space and mollifying synth strokes. ‘1 In 3’ is drum ’n’ shredded bass with a compressed rhythm and then drifts ‘Apophenia’ has a pottering rhythm, with poisonous synth seepage, and a growing guitar threat which then peters out, ‘Divide And Conquer’ goes off on a brisk drum grimshot, a beat starts circling and goes mental, creating another peppering effect. ‘TV Spotlight’ again is a lean rhythmical tussle with the vocals growing increasingly irate like a constipated dalek, as they go closest to their ASF/PIL hybrid.
‘Does Anyone Remember The War?’ is their dinkiest little playful pop drone, with snappy drums and ‘Battle Of The Bands’ helps the methadone go down with monstrous sludge and angst before we finish on ‘History Of Guns/After The Breakdown’ which is like a mental mixture of it all thrown up into the air and recorded as it falls and not likely to be something people bother with very often with a return to stunning guitar wedges, and feral punk, but also ending in a realm previously only experienced by Anthony Newley whistling Dark Side Of The Moon to himself.
It’s all good but, given that it was recorded ages ago, and notwithstanding the possibility they’ve already considered a different tack, if they’d done a guitar album solely of modern punky epics at which they are unsurpassed, followed by one entirely of beat frenzy, it would actually give them a far bigger potential audience, and those listeners more of a thrill fest. Instead it’s a hatful of glass for people who get off on the essential spikiness which is infuriating! Lock them up, and tell no-one where you hide the key. Make them beg.




The accompanying press release does its best to put us at our ease:

Before you review our CD please consider the following facts.
1) In one hundred years everyone you know will be dead
2) No-one really loves you and you will die alone
3) Everything is f**** up. You know it and we know it.

Into this hideous world is born Flashes Of Light, eight songs to look after you because face it, no other c**t will.”

And before you get thinking they should be in politics, you’re already in their hands, with the double header Flashes Pt 1 and 2 doing what the vast – and we’re talking corpulent percentages - majority do in Industrial circles. They have plenty of noises whirling but these are melodically placed to set out the story our garbled host will provide. The noises hang together constructively, creating as much mystery as menace, loitering behind the distinctively glazed vocal drawl. The rhythm snakes forward as lines of dialogue are spat out. Trip-hop beats are produced and used with military precision, with a beautiful synth providing relief. It’s like following them through a cave with your walkman turned down low as the grenades casually spill from their pockets.

They’ll always set up a spry rhythm, and even the weirder vocals have a sing-song lilt. The songs will slow and fracture before starting again, which most bands do, but here their shuffle beat is so superb you take these as gaps not irritation. It’s never ugly, and never too weird, even when the sleepy piano mixes with the epigrammatic vocals.

That’s twenty minutes of music before you hit ‘Going Hollow’, where the vocals sound shaky, because that’s his style and he uses them incisively, even when the music sounds like a religious cult might like it. ‘Pattern Death’ is a simple hammer beat and speed rhythm, while the vocals lurch all over you. Think Pop Group, think Pil, then update your mental PC. Their spleen there is vented through a funnelled composition, but after that they slow down with ‘Blown’, almost a murky ballad by their way of thinking.

‘Learning Curve’ is slurred and battered and up to no good, but has an inviting quality. (This is what you want as you wander about town.) It’s semi-abstract, with these lyrical points obviously meaning something but requiring time to push into a semblance of order. They’re not being profound, just mirroring their own desire to make sense of the insensible world; that return ticket to Hell burning a hole in their pockets. And they’re f***ing funny too. ‘Flashes Pt 3’ should raise a smile as he mumbles on, and the rhythm buffets you saucily.

‘Thunder In The Airwaves’ isn’t a Toyah tribute, just a wavering piano–led traipse across some of their more prettier, sinuous sounds, and the album ends with you thinking you’ve been on a journey, blindfold. They even have their flash of realisation at the end, which they naturally won’t share.

The reason that anyone imaginative or sussed enough musically should want this record is that they are, by far, the most inventive UK band to have got their hands caught in the Industrial threshing machine. They never do the obvious and the worldview makes sense, in setting scenes like shadowy directors and treating us as players. They also admit to making sense in the Goth world, because of the thoughts flying around in their work. It’s obvious what they’re against, and the sounds fit this worldview with thorny elements, but by holding off on harsher implements they create something you want to keep picking at, to peel away the layers, which is probably half the point, and half the attraction.
They gonna f*** with you long time.

FLASHES OF LIGHT PT 4 – BUY the album.


Liquid Len Recording Company

A one track promo from the album of the same name, due for a bloody birth in January, this is the next step in this band's vibrant existence. It comes wrapped in some kind of Medusa concept with intriguingly abstruse academic woffle and you can sit back, contemplatively mumbling, 'hmmmm, yes, Medusa!' pretending to be very learned indeed. I haven't got the clear what they're on about, or how the death of Medusa can be taken as a Feminist elegy but that's not important, because I'm simply thinking, 'Impress me, boys!'

And they do. Whispering, wibbly-wobbly vocals move through and across the pleasantly freefall background music, there's that indefinable magic potential just hanging in the air. And as one portion dissolves, the corpuscular beat begins to flex and flow, starting some neurotic dance.
Slowly, the gravelly vocals assume form as a smattering of music appears then shatters, and noises come through unpleasantly. There are weird vocals; spoken passages, really, which assume for the form of dialogue, or mad utterances that rhyme.

It's music with seriously advanced, filmic confidence and attitude, exuding mystery, and has such clout it's ambition is clearly being realised. The drums start to deliver impact, then pause, and the next thing you know it's a different drum sound. This is more than just attention to detail, this is music unfurling.
And as the sounds get warmer so the consistently strange vocals get to impress, because this is History Of Guns, in that they create massive sounds, in a forthright modern manner, but against this impressively melodic scythe sweeping through the very highest standards, there comes the voice of a crazed man. Think James Bond dancing to some old Bauhaus bootlegs. Think of a gauche Lydon. The music rises up ad around the scrawny vocals legs, to fill out like a luxuriantly saucy dress, and the vocals hit this part about, "Nothing you can get", which is when it hit me.

Think of "Well, nothing you can touch" from the stunning 'Pretty In Pink'. This isn't a copy of Butler's delivery, I don't mean that. It's simply that brilliant. That distinctive. That sure a sign of a band with an identity all their own.

There is no-one else like this in the UK Scene, that's for sure, and when they call themselves post-industrial Goth it makes wonderful sense. Take the potential we all thought The Horatii once had, before they chose cryogenic suspension, and multiply a few times, because History Of Guns are several levels up, with ease, and this album had better be pretty f*****g special, or this promo will remain behind to damn them.

I shouldn't be too worried, because this is probably just a taster for the deluge to follow. One song, but it's just like the Tardis. It's enormous inside.


Liquid Len

Apparently this would have been an album but the band downsized to EP status because they’d become ‘consumed by business rhetoric’, which is a pretty flimsy excuse if you ask me, albeit audacious.

The band whose reviews tag them with everything from psychotropic forms of Industrial to original Batcave deserve to dazzle, and to draw admirers to them, so you can forgive them many lapses. These are disturbed characters who spend time down the pub dreaming up caustic visions, but actually remember these plans when they hit the studio, and after the wonderful ‘Disconnect’ CD here they are with more colourful abstract washes, and the heady stench of sewage.

‘Moonburn’ confirms all my worst fears. They can still create music which is a cross between film noir soundtracks and an ad man’s cream, which traipses along in regal style, then for no apparent reason gets increasingly uglier, like an archbishop forgetting his vows of respectability and suddenly taking a s**t on a zebra crossing in front of a crocodile of school children and teachers walking back from the local swimming pool.
‘Compassion Fatigue’ is a mockney mazurka where two songs seems overlapped, and it works well but I wonder why they do this, because there’s a vital point to appreciate about these bastards. They have a stream, of ideas most bands would die for, but once they establish something beautiful they stamp it into the ground soon after. ‘Mimozine’ is a sensational accomplishment and manages to escape too much barbarism, and the wiggliest, ‘Skin Can’t Breathe’ munches the air quizzically, but also stays fairly constant in its pustular approach.

The title track is a little too Joy Division at the beginning, with seismic bass added, but then the guitar pulls it away into lighter surrounds, and the singer seem to have a bad cold. I could have sworn he sang, "all we need is cabbage", only to discover the word is ‘damage’.

It’s all here, from Tindersticks, to Inca Babies, Portishead and Suede, but more subtle and cheeky, equally individual but more up to date and ambitious. Add to that the unexpected moments of musical mangling and you really do have just about the most imaginative UK band attached to Goth - and they do actually label themselves as Post-Industrial Goth. None of this ‘we’re an alternative something or other, we don’t like being put in a box’ crap, when bands who say that deserve an air-tight box and nothing else.

In the old days this band would have been snapped up by 4AD or Beggars by now, but in the New Old Days labels can offer nothing because there’s bugger all money left and they have no futures, so indie labels are THE future, on a small level. That means true fans will be that. True. They will follow up reviews, they will search for their new favourites, and they will make an effort as you won’t find things in shops. This is a case in point, and as History Of Guns make records you’ll never want to get rid of, they are worth your time and effort.

This EP will cost you £3.50,which includes P&P, if you live within UK/Europe, or £4.50 (includes P&P) if you live elsewhere in the world. Send cheque or money order payable to History Of Guns to: History Of Guns, Foodle Towers, 72 Burleigh Road, Hertford SG13 7EZ (England).
The website is a pleasant mess and is working bookmarking as a few interesting items seem to crop up from time to time. Their Guns For Sale section doesn’t seem to work., and where the Hell is the biog? I hunted high and low.

P.S. While reading through the History Of Guns site found a link for a very decent,. Interesting metal site. Go see

Liquid Len Recordings

F**k! You always wonder when you find the band is a home-based recording unit, whether it'll be soft and sappy, or under-produced guitar/electronics that sounds in need of a big sound, but you don't expect to be tricked by convivial piano, an escalating beat and then a mad ranting voice of the 'oi, geezer!' variety coming at you with clean and pretty guitar-based music bucking all known trends behind it. Try to imagine a modern take on a collision between Inca Babies and Alien Sex Fiend, it's that diverse and clompy.
First of all they made me laugh, and then whisked the carpet out from under me, because just when you think you're in the company of able- handed lunatics they show their other face with 'Fifty Seven Days', a slippery song which starts slow, over which a camp vocal delivery bemoans his lot in a bitter world, and then it all cuts up rough. They do things with sound, and have the most wonderful hisssss to the taut percussion, creating a jumbled amalgam of styles but within sensible confines. There's no experimentation going on here, other than with their sanity, so don't think these are dribbling electro bores who want to be seen as left-field eclectic artistes. These are great songs, but with genetic abnormalities inside. Sometimes the music tends to shove the vocal aside, but this rumpus is very different, so maybe that's intentional, and at the same time quite persuasive. The title track may have psychotic guitar at times but overall could be Danse Society (circa 'No Shame In Death') in league with Portishead. That sort of thing.
They don't accept any rules, so how can they obey them? Audacious, quite audacious.
The CD can, and should, be bought for £3.50 from The Liquid Lens Recording Company, PO Box xxx, Potters bar, ENx xxx or e-mail for details at "

History Of Guns - Enough Is Too Much LP
~review by Mick Mercer

The way they described this ‘lost’ (until they moved a piece of paper and found it again) album in the interview I did you’d have thought listening to this would be like watching Barbara Cartland lapdancing. It was a record, supposedly, which made them shudder and yet, it all sounds pretty good and explains where they came from.

Okay so ‘ Weevil’ is the irritating slicing technique, and why the grand design of ‘Devastation Remains’ needed to go beyond 3.30 is a mystery to one and all, when it was so good in its pained but restrained manner, but overall this collections hangs together as well as any furtive gang could. ‘Floods Back’ has those circus drums and the phased wooziness with guitar and rhythm jostling the drowning vocals. ‘Ode To The Succubus’ has brilliantly malign percussion with a sweet melody hanging on the barbed wire, ‘Random Death Bag (Vs.1)’ highlights the old Sex Fiend or Pop Group posters which might have been on their early teenage walls, and the rave residue is swiftly cleared up in ‘Best Of Me Two Thousand.’

There could be a spoken turd album if they willed it, with ‘Plain X/Requeim’ sliding along on wispy synth and agile beats, the rascal that is ‘Little Miss Suicide’ still demands attention, ‘I Am Defective’ is grubbily hypnotic, with superb beats and ‘Meat On Slab’ has a fine cinematic opening, then falls apart like a limited edition PIL sickbag.

If you know anyone who loves Faithless you ought to sneak this into one of their CD cases. They’ll not notice immediately, then they will be astonished, assuming you always listen to rubbish.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is only for diehard fans. This is a more than decent record. It is indecently adventurous.