- Year 2017
- Genre Black Metal
- Country France
- Label Season Of Mist
- Rating Solid
Merrimack has a tendency to slip under the radar when people mention French black metal, but they’ve always stood out to me as one of the groups capable of merging the traditional styles of year’s past with some of the more complex songwriting of their contemporaries. Though they’ve gone through quite a few line-up changes over their twenty three year history, the current version of the band has been together for seven years. ‘Omegaphilia’ is the second full length since A.K. (Decline of the I), Blastum (VI), and Vestal (Anus Mundi) joined Merrimack, and it comes nearly five years after predecessor ‘The Acausal Mass’. It’s clear that the lengthier incubation period has been well-spent, as ‘Omegaphilia’ showcases the group sprawling even further out towards dense atmosphere and jagged attacks. Although it does drag a bit towards the end, the strength of the rest of the material outweighs it and makes Merrimack’s latest another quality showing of French black metal.
Slow burning melodies build over time, keeping the listener entranced in their hazy yet tense atmosphere, until they ultimately give way to violent climaxes that feel like they’re plunging a dagger straight into your throat
As you make your way through the seven songs on ‘Omegaphilia’, you’re likely to notice that it feels like a natural continuation and refinement of ‘The Acausal Mass’. The instrumentalists haven’t merely repeated themselves though, but there is a similar flow to the songs and the way they manifest a tense and foreboding atmosphere ties the two releases together. Where a lot of other black metal has a tendency to blast away and keep things moving at a fast pace the entire time, Merrimack structures things in a slower manner. There are still plenty of sections where the guitars and drums ramp up in intensity and the tempo suddenly swings towards the faster side, but quite a bit of the material here is structured in a way that gives off a ritualistic feel. Slow burning melodies build over time, keeping the listener entranced in their hazy yet tense atmosphere, until they ultimately give way to violent climaxes that feel like they’re plunging a dagger straight into your throat. Each of the seven songs takes a different approach to how it achieves this, but the seamless flow between abrasive and hypnotic elements continues to define Merrimack’s approach to black metal and it’s quite enticing. Admittedly the end of the album comes off feeling a bit too drawn out, as the last two tracks are the longest on the record and are a bit bloated, but it doesn’t take away too much from the high points.
One of the elements that drew me to ‘The Acausal Mass’ back in 2012 was the addition of Vestal, whose vocal work is a perfect complement for the group’s current direction. This is once again the case, as his lower pitched screams are the cornerstones of many of these songs, coming across like a sermon that is capable of taking you to hellish and dark places. There’s a consistent amount of grit and grime to the performance, and this adds to the jagged nature of the performance. It’s a style that may not be that uncommon, particularly for French black metal, but when delivered with this much intensity and precision it works in Merrimack’s favor.
The last two songs slightly overstay their welcome, but the chill-inducing melodies and jagged attacks that are prevalent throughout the record make ‘Omegaphilia’ another strong release from this long-running band. They’ve further refined the ritualistic flow between slower, moody build-ups and sheer blasting, delivering material that has warranted a good deal of revisiting to pick out the nuances. It isn’t quite my favorite French black metal release of 2017, but it’s definitely near the edge of that top tier and showcases that this version of Merrimack only keeps getting better as they move forward.