Saturday 14 December 2019

Marijannah - Istanah (Album Review)

Release date: December 06th 2019 (Digital) / January 31st 2020 (Vinyl). Label: Cursed Tongue Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Istanah – Tracklisting

1. Bloodsucker
2. 1966
3. Full Moon
4. Shapeless
5. Spider Walk With Me
6. Pluto


Muhd Azri – bass guitar
Nicholas Wong – drums and vocals
Rasyid Juraimi – guitar and vocals
Nicholas Ng – guitar and vocals


My favourite Singaporean hoodlums, Marijannah, are back with the follow-up to their excellent debut, ‘Till Marijannah’. The new wax, entitled ‘Istanah’, is equally great in all aspects as its predecessor, any way you look at it. Even better, Marijannah are not playing it safe. It still sounds like them but a really nice strong twist, akin to Mars Red Sky, has been added and this turned out perfect. They have also gotten heavier and trippier on top of this, so naturally, ‘Istanah’ is absolutely brilliant!

Opener ‘Bloodsucker’, also the first single off of ‘Istanah’, epitomises the entire album and the change Marijannah has gone through. It explodes out of the gates being almost Death Metal…for about 75 seconds. Then the band settle in with the Mars Red Sky vibes which flows so eloquently through the songs from then on, you know what I’m talking about. Stoner rock and trippiness. Although ‘Bloodsucker’ retain more of the new-found heaviness, just listen to those riffs and the solos, man. And that earth-shattering middle section. Fantastic! ‘1966’, the second single of the album follows keeping the pace a touch slower with elegant hints towards the old Palm Springs scene. All while hypnotising and mesmerising the listener. The music envelops you immediately and doesn’t let go until you are cleansed and reinvigorated. Beautiful, indeed. ‘Full Moon’ is by and far the shortest song Marijannah has ever released. At 1.38 with only a minimalistic yet disturbing music background, this brief composition hits all the emotions there is.

‘Shapeless’ really brings the stoner metal mixed with doom. Slow, menacing, heavy and trippy it simply crushes anything in its way. It is one of those amazing songs where you can lose yourself, as long as you want to and you should, trust me! ‘Spider Walk With Me’ opens up in full punk mode before switching to something akin to Voivod playing stoner. This weaves back and forth until they drop in tempo and goes into a spaced out trippy mode. Kind of claustrophobic and disturbing but in the best possible way because music shouldn’t always be easy. It should be challenging at times and keep you, the listener, on your toes. And that’s what ‘Spider Walk With Me’ does. ‘Pluto’ is the last song out and it starts out kind of like its predecessor. Full of slow, lurking doom and stoner rock which turns into a space journey through exploding super novas during the solos. Marijannah definitely takes you somewhere new and uncharted and I am absorbing and loving every little bit of it!

Marijannah blew me away with their debut especially because the music was great but also since I knew nothing of them back in 2018. And I love it when unknown bands through me of my foundations. Again, they kind of surprised me because I didn’t know the sophomore record was in the making. As with the debut, the new wax, ‘Istanah’ simply clears the playing field letting Marijannah dominate and take control. And that’s how it should be. These guys are fantastic and deserve so much recognition, so don’t miss out people. Watch out for the Singaporean juggernaut!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Niels at Cursed Tongue Records for the promo.

Istanah is available to buy digitally now. The vinyl will be available to buy from January 31st 2019 via Cursed Tongue Records.