Merrimack – Of Grace and Gravity

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French black metal quintet Merrimack are back with their sixth album “Of Grace and Gravity” released on March 8th via Season of Mist Underground Activists. Considering how nihilistic the French black metal bands are, Merrimack takes the genre in a direction that fans of Antaeus, Watain, Valkyrja, Deathspell Omega, and Ofermod would approve of. While still sounding pure and evil we get treated with a hellfire of tremolo-picked riffs, slow catchy melodies, and above all the new material is arguably amongst the band’s best work.

Merrimack was formed in 1994 by guitarist Perversifier which means the band plays black metal in the classic style of 90s Scandinavian bands. Since 2002 the band went through line-up changes and musical styles have changed through time however, the inspiration seemed to wax over the past seven years and therefore “Of Grace and Gravity” managed to capture the atmosphere, aggression, and memorable riffs.

The opening track “Sulphurean Synods” injects lead guitars, dissonance, and blazing fast-picked tremolo riffs with melodic passages to create a pitch-black atmosphere. Merrimack returns with the same members the lineup includes Daethorn (bass guitar), Blastum (drums), A.K. (guitars), and Vestal (vocals).

Although the influences draw widely from modern black metal bands which makes “Of Grace and Gravity” raw, Merrimack blends lots of elements in one song as they sometimes sound slow, and cold, and then the guitar brings an aggressive barrage. The hooks are aplenty, and they are perfectly emphasized to cement a raw and furious black metal sound, with the blast beats fully utilized on “Sublunar Despondency”.

The slow melodic lines provide catchy hooks and riffs, creating something entirely beautiful, the double bass along with the lead guitars add a unique sound for the band on its newest album. There is a mixture of furious blast beats and subtle melodies that create some kind of atmospheric trance-like ambiance, and almost the tremolo-picked riffs are utilized to convey melody.

Dead and Distant Clamors” is one of the highlights of the album that delivers top-quality black metal, the riffs are well-written and sound refreshing to the listener, and the focus mainly is on the guitars and the vocals that spew dark evil screeches. Nevertheless, the new album is a misanthropic offering from these Frenchmen, who have delivered one of their best albums in my opinion. Each track has several tempos ranging from fast-paced to mid-tempo then slows down to create an ultra-dark mood, the complexity of the guitar work is noticeable throughout the album.

Wounds That Heal” begins with a groovy riff then quickly injects some palpable guitar hooks in the mix combining raging blast beats and catchy guitar work, this alone shows the beauty of the composition. Even in the tempo changes the melodies flow with pitch-black riffs to create memorability, even the melancholic guitar segments are infused within the song structure to make a perfect balance between these elements.

The slowest song on the album is “Starving Crowns” which is highly enjoyable. The guitars and the vocals allow everything to flow from the weight of the pacing drums, with plenty of variety to slower guitar parts utilized. Although the album stands as one of the band’s most atmospheric albums, the drums bring a good mixture of aggression and blast beats.

Under The Aimless Spheres” comes with a massive thrust from the drums. Relentless blast beats become more significant on this raging track, the guitars deliver some thrashing riffs and fiery tremolo-picked riffs contrast with the blasting percussion. The fast outburst then becomes subdued by the atmospheric guitar section and keeps the momentum driven with tons of tremolo-picked riffs and unleashing hellfire upon us.

A notable difference on this track is that the guitars utilize some extensive slow parts at the end of the track. Although I don’t consider the album to be epic, the guitar arrangements and subtle transitions between the tempos give the album a great sense of variety.

Embalmer’s Wine” begins with a slower and somewhat melancholic guitar intro, then shifts to rapid blistering riffs. In the tempo and the riffing ooze dissonance, and some modern elements of black metal can be heard in the guitar work that present a sense of mysteriousness. Midway through the song, the drums utilize fast blast beats and simultaneously reflect the grandeur of the instrumentation and aggression.


  • Music / Songwriting 8/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
  • Mix / Production 9/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 8/10

The songwriting prowess and the talent of the Frenchmen highlight their work on the sixth full-length album, Merrimack returns after seven long years to present something worthy for fans of black metal.

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