Release DetailsLABEL Moribund Records
RELEASED ON 6/6/2006
Of Entropy And Life Denial
posted on 6/2006 By:
Merrimack is a tricky band to pin down to one style entirely, which almost seems to be a goal among extreme metal bands these days. It isn’t hard to notice the cross-pollination among the vitriolic elite in many different ways. The black is flirting with rock, hardcore experiments with death metal, crust goes atmospheric, maybe this is really nothing new. The thing is there are so many bands that dance on style lines so adroitly nowadays, that even hardened, wise veterans of the scene get thrown off on occasion trying to place a descriptive tag onto something. French metal has really been scarring the face of underground metal over the last couple years, and Of Entropy And Life Denial is no different.
What Goes Right: How I wish this album was named Now, Diabolical, and a band named Satyricon had released it. This album is a perfect example of how a band can expand upon its initial foundation and bloom into a multifaceted, transformable threat without completely compromising their basic intentions. While firmly rooted in riffy black metal, trace elements of droning, lurching doom, melancholic goth, and most notably, a hint of East Coast death metal occasionally rears it’s ugly head. The vocals encompass a wide variety of very un-black metal guttural growls, and cleaner, more rasping snarls rather than an entirely harsh and caustic delivery. The vocal patterns are also well-assembled, blending and flowing along with the music rather than against it. While not very dissonant or ambient, this also isn’t raw or primitive at all, and straddles a line between traditionalism and modernism with only a hair’s space of difference between the two aesthetics.
The pacing of this disc is fantastic, reigning in the speed in favor of textured compositional changes, securing the riffs, setting the mood, and then unleashing the fury only when the time is right for them to do so. Merrimack go from scathing tremolo, to lumbering, doomlike groove and back again, throwing a bit of gloom and deathly harmonies just to make things interesting. The production choices are fresh, with all the players sharing their place in the spotlight as one cohesive, audible unit thanks in no small part to the respectable, moderately polished veneer of the mix which compliments the music very well. The slow tunes crush with good bottom end, and the raging speed sections don’t turn into a clicky, trebly mess. Good stuff.
What Goes Wrong: I cannot count how many otherwise brilliant closing tracks have been mutilated by a dead-air space segue that lasts for almost a third of the song's length, and it happens on this disc as well. Bands, STOP DOING THIS. It's a terrible trend that should have been killed off years ago, and why it's still happening, killing the momentum of album after album is beyond me, It sucks, regardless, so stop it.
The Verdict: I hated the ending of Of Entropy And Life Denial. This isn’t the first time an otherwise superb album has ended with such a high anticlimax, and knowing human nature, it won’t be the last. Other than the destruction of an otherwise brilliant closing track, and occasionally distracted songwriting, this is one of the finest examples of high-quality extreme French metal I’ve heard since Gojira’s last album. Wrapped in a razorwire cloak of blackened hateful charm, Merrimack can lay claim to being among the best from France, but Blut Aus Nord still have nothing to worry about for now.
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