Album Review: Awaking Mercury – If It’s Maria

Awaking Mercury hails from West Chester, PA and is the musical brainchild of Philly scene hang-around Luke Eccles.  The band’s latest offering, If It’s Maria, is their second official release and weighs in a 4 tracks and roughly 18 minutes.  The 4 tracks pack a decidedly modern rock punch, with influences ranging from hardcore to 90s alternative and beyond.

It feels like cheating when I tackle a Luke Eccles project, as I’ve known him for over a decade and remember when he really first dove into more serious songwriting.  However, I have always promised Luke, despite (or maybe because of) the friendship we’ve developed, that I’d be honest and straightforward when covering his music for my website or whatever site I was writing for at the time.  I’ve never disliked his music, but it took until the first Awaking Mercury release, “Head for the Indies” for Luke to release something that truly captivated me as a listener.

The new release takes what I really liked about the Awaking Mercury debut and continues to build.  The key component of Luke’s growth on this album seems to be the partnership with Shane Breland, the band’s bassist.  Prior to this album, I have always heard the songs written by Luke as products of his creative mind, brought to fruition with the aid of the other band members.  However, on this album, additional creative input is evident more so than in the past.  This creative input seems to bring out the best in Luke’s songwriting and If It’s Maria is the strongest release in his catalog to date.

The title track brings a Blink 182 influence to the table, yet still feels like Awaking Mercury through and through.  “Your Blood is Not My Blood” reminds me of Embodyment’s “Narrow Scope of Things” era.  And, the opening and closing tracks both pack a great deal of punch, sonically; powerful layered vocals stand atop soaring guitars and crashing drums.  The closer, “Tie Me Up Tight”, brings back memories of a favorite Pennsylvania band of mine from the early 2000’s, Harrisburg’s Running From Dharma.

Front to back, the four tracks feel fresh and different for Awaking Mercury, but not in a way that makes them too different.  As the logical progression of growth as a band and new creative influences, If It’s Maria pushes Awaking Mercury to new edges and new limits.  New and old fans alike will certainly enjoy.  Don’t believe me, check it out for yourself at: http://www.awakingmercury.com

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