Thursday 14 April 2016

Merchant - Suzerain (Album Review)

Release date: April 18th 2016. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Suzerain – Tracklisting

1.Seed & Soil
2.Mourning Light
4.Black Vein

Band Members:

Ben - Guitar
Mirgy - Vocals
Nick - Drums
Wilson - Bass, Vocals


Australian Doom/Sludge Metallers – Merchant – create a bleak blend of Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal. Merchant show huge potential on their debut album Suzerain as they create highly progressive Neurosis/YOB style sludge/doom sounds with the band injecting an almost blackened sludge metal feel to the mix.

Opening track – Seed & Soil – sets the tone and atmosphere for the whole album. Merchant play dark and epic pounding riffs with almost indecipherable vocals that may put some people off the album. If you have the patience for an album such as this then you will find much to enjoy and admire here. The psychedelic noises bring a welcome distraction to the filth and decay that Merchant expertly create throughout the album.

The production is handled superbly well as the album has a rich and heavy complex sound that only adds to the highly volatile atmosphere of the album. Second track Morning Light is another progressive nightmarish track sees the band change their sound between post-metal, doom and post-black metal. It’s quite a bass heavy affair with the pounding drums leaving you in a daze at times. The vocals and lyrical content are very bleak which more than matches the harsh sonic riffs being played around you.

Third track – Suzerain – is a twenty minute epic and perhaps the centrepiece of the whole album. Merchant create an almost tribal experience merged with the familiar depressing Sludge/Doom/Post-Metal style that Neurosis created back in the day. The vocals are kept firmly in the background for the first part of the song but Merchant experiment with their sound as Merchant bring heavy layers of experimental noise and you never know how it’s going to end. It’s quite a bruising encounter of extreme music your putting yourself through but it's never boring. Merchant demand your attention from start to finish. Psychedelic noises and bass heavy guitars could give doom metal heavyweights Conan a run for their money.

The final track – Black Vein – closes the album the way it started. Long drawn out doom/sludge based riffs with the band playing a faster style of music compared to the other tracks on the album. Merchant have created a menacing and quite frankly punishing album. It doesn't offer any easy answer though Merchant will have you coming back for more punishment as they have created a stunning debut album that is bound to get them noticed in the Sludge/Doom Metal scene.

Excellent and Highly Recommended. You can read my interview with the band here.

Words by Steve Howe