Beneath – CD//DD
Black Bow Records – Released May 12, 2017
Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
Black Bow Records is the label started by Conan’s Jon Paul Davis and it just released the 2-song ‘Beneath‘ from Australia’s Merchant last Friday, May 12th. It was just little over a year ago that Merchant came crashing on to the heavy music scene with their four-song debut, Suzerain. Now, vocalist Mirgy, guitarist Ben, bassist/vox Wilson and drummer Nick are back with another brutish boulder of harrowing heaviness.
The slowly unfolding first moments of ‘Guile As A Vice‘ are somewhat sedate as a fuzzy riff reverberates and plodding drums render periodic, perfectly timed strikes. Soon a pattern begins to form and from that pattern, a rhythmic roadmap comes into sight..and sound. Equally melodic and epic, things build and circulate, almost reaching a drone like point before gravelly vocals finely enter the mix. Harshly acidic, they herald a tale told from what sounds like pure vocal chord shredding severity amid semi-psyche infused atmospherics of utter dread. At over fourteen and a half minutes running time, there is a lot of transcendental sludge to be explored here for sure.
Second cut ‘Succumbing‘ is instantly more uptempo yet no less savagely brutal and battering. Taking a cue from peers like Neurosis and Yob, the track’s flurry of circulatory rhythmic pulses pull you under. The vocals undergo a turn toward a much more sinister state than the previous track while the hellish audio bog beats you into submission. Another long-player, the song maintains a constant, fevered inferno of activity on varied levels and refuses to let up for the most part. A bit of haziness seeps forth at one point as things begin to pull back in intensity, gradually getting a bit more and more minimalist. That throttling down continues and soon gives way to a cacophony of feedback and dissonance before relinquishing its hold upon your throat.
What strides Merchant has made since their critically acclaimed release last year are more than evident on the new EP, ‘Beneath‘. The sludgier vibes are prevalent and punishing of course with one of the most noticeable differences here is the change in the vocals. I am sure this newly released beatdown of blackened bereavement shall leave no listener unscathed. You can now stream it for yourself via the Soundcloud embed below if you dare.
– Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker