Merrimack - Of Grace and Gravity album

Merrimack – Of Grace and Gravity (Album Review)

Merrimack 2024 band

Possessing one of the most vicious and underrated scenes in all Black Metal, France has produced its share of elite purveyors of the darkest of Heavy Metal arts. Of them all, Merrimack sits quite near the top, occupying a lofty perch alongside the likes of Blut Aus Nord, Seth, and Anorexia Nervosa. Together since 1994, this 8th of March, 2024 sees Merrimack releasing just their sixth full-length album in their history. Of Grace and Gravity infects the earth courtesy of Season of Mist’s Underground Activists division, and fans the world over wait to see how the band will sound seven years after the appearance of their last album, 2017’s Omegaphilia. Does the black flame still burn over Paris?

Merrimack churns with sweeping medieval decadence on “Sublunar Despondency,” a song that goes for the throat right off the jump. Longtime bassist Daethorn, who finger-picks on his instrument, can be heard quite well in the mix. This is not often the case with Black Metal, and his adroit playing combined with the abyssal percussion of Blastum on drums provides a wicked bottom end to the mix. Frequent blasts are pierced by intense Frontman Vestal’s catacomb-level bellow.

Changing up their attack, the broody “Starving Crowns” provides a clear sonic picture of the work of founding Guitarist Perversifier and his counterpart, A.K, on second guitar. Hypnotic in its slow repetition, this is meant to lull the listener before a brief explosion of speed ratchets up the excitement. Multiple tempo changes are synthesized magnificently herein, making it a highlight.

The speedy and chaotic “Dead and Distant Clamors” would not be amiss coming from a band like Naglfar, with its clamorous lead and blasting drum beats. Merrimack again keeps the listener on his or her toes, manipulating tempo to maximum effect.

From the opening song “Sulphurean Synods,” with perhaps the most violent delivery of Vestal’s throat, to the most pitiless blast-beat speed of perhaps the best song on the album “Under the Aimless Spheres,” Merrimack never loses their songs to speed for speed’s sake. There is an ancient and evil beauty within this music that only bands from places steeped in centuries of history can amplify. The production is actually quite top-notch, without seeming modern or the least bit generic. Black Metal purists have a reputation for avoiding albums that sound too clean, but it is doubtful that they will object to the material on offer here.

The album closes with “Embalmer’s Wine,” a slow build-up that launches into hyper-speed while that slow-strummed opening phrase marches overtop. Similar to their neighbors from Holland in Asagraum; this is the sort of highly musical spirited Black Metal that holds its quality for future listens. When the midsection storms with ultimate menace, one can picture the song live turning venues into proverbial ash.

Merrimack infuses its albums with the sort of black energy mirrored by its Frontman Vestal. To witness this man perform live is to see the bearing of a Faustian soul, tormented and bleak. Each note on this album was recorded with this same intensity, and there is no doubt that these Frenchmen have crafted what will be one of the finer Black Metal albums to emerge from Hell, and for this reason Cryptic Rock gives Of Grace and Gravity 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Merrimack - Of Grace and Gravity album
Merrimack – Of Grace and Gravity / Season of Mist (2024)

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