Saturday 30 January 2016

Meriin - Electric Children (Album Review)

Release date: March 11th 2016. Label: 4ONE8 Records. Format: CD/DD

Electric Children – Tracklisting

1. Bad Trip 2:59
2. Electric Children 5:56
3. Will ‘o The Wisp 6:22
4. Interlude 2:32
5. Night Creep 3:38
6. Warbringer 5:21
7. Julia Reprise 1:41
8. Tales Of The Wasteland 23:21

Band Members:

Jordan Knorr - Lead vocals
Carter Lewis - Guitar, background vocals, synth
Caleb Wyels – Percussions
Joey Hamm - Bass


Wizards and witches seem to have a cardinal significance within the stoner and doom scene. Merlin the wizard is a well-known figure within the fiction literature. As I’m not well read within the fictions genres of mystery, sorcery and fables, I will not dive further into the deeper meaning of the character Merlin, but stop at the conclusion that this configuration of Merlin that here stands before me is a dark, brooding, mysterious and yet peculiar compelling unity.

In 2014, Merlin released their first full length entitled Christ Killer to a high appraisal amongst a smaller group of illuminated hardcore stoner doomers. One can only wonder why more people haven’t picked up on this band yet, but perhaps it could partly be due to the fact that Merlin is harder to put to frame as yet another Kyuss, Sleep or Pentagram clone imitating the aesthetics within the genres.

Well that is a shame, because once you invest in the wizards twisted sorcery you I’ll find yourself blessed with a dark and psychedelic universe of “not-so-standard” stoner doom rock with strong, melodic and at times chant-like vocals. Fuzzy heavy riffs, pummelling, yet playful drumming, with song structures that switches between insisting grooves and slower psyched out passages leaving enough room for the monsters to crawl out under your bed and sink their fangs in…

First track, ‘Bad Trip’, is a short trailblazer that after a short intro and build-up of march-like drumming and swirling guitars sets off into outer space on a short but effective race around a dark moon. An über doomy version of Hawkwind or The Cosmic Dead immediately springs to mind. Next up is the title track that despite a running time at 5+ minutes still is, after Merlin standards, a fairly short affair. It alternates between faster paced space doom and slower groovy passages that gives the song a cool interaction that works really well.

On the album’s third track the pace is lowered even further and resembles more the imprint Merlin left on Christ Killer. This is one of the standout tracks on the album, and I’m impressed with how much gloom and atmosphere Merlin is able to pack into their songs. ‘Will ‘o The Wisp’ is probably how a slowed down Acidic Uncle would present himself when stalking around your house hunting you down for the inevitable decapitation. This is the perfect horror movie soundtrack and I might be mistaken but somehow I think this is exactly what Merlin set out to achieve on Electric Children.

Interlude’ is surprisingly a short interlude of different synthesizer harmonies, almost like the introduction to an occult ceremony in the black church of Satan. This short mood installer gives way to the (short) ‘Night Creep’ with an up-tempo and extremely catchy chorus, “Night-night-night creep, night-night-night creep, night-night-night creep, coming for you”, strong melody lines and great guitar solo works in the middle of the song. This is great, straightforward occult doom rock.

Next up in the wizard’s melting pot is ‘Warbringer’ where Merlin lends more towards a Spirit Caravan/Pentagram inspired riffing and driving rhythms. A solid stoner doom track with some cool and varied vocals, where Jordan Knorr show a little more bite and a slight anger in his tone, almost bordering insanity as he wails “Losing faith, losing life, lose your fortune, lose your mind. “My life, my soul, I think I lost them all”. Splendid!

Another short intermission ‘Julia Reprise’ sets the scene for what is next and nothing could have prepared you for the adventures that lie ahead on this album’s grandiose finale that is the closing track.

Now, for the album closer ‘Tales of the Wasteland’ that is an epic 23 minutes journey through murky and mysterious landscapes where evil lurks around every next bend in the notes. With this song, Merlin really stretches out and covers vast musical ground and the scope at stake here makes me think of a psych doom mutation of Pink Floyd's Animals album. And this is not a bad thing, trust me.

I fear we might not make it home through these wastelands tonight, but if I was to die this very night, this would be the perfect place to leave my mortal body. Why not? The heart is already lost to the evil hands of the bleak wizard. I dare any proclaimed fan of doom, psych and stoner with a craving for the occult to enter this dismal world of Merlin and take a dance of the death with his Electric Children.

Words by Niels Fuzz Bartholdy

Thanks to Remi at 4ONE8 Records for the promo. Electric Children will be available to buy from 4ONE8 Records on CD/DD from March 11th 2016.