Sunday 1 January 2023

Merlock - Onward Strides Colossus (Album Review)

Release Date: February 24th 2023. Record Label: Self Released. Formats: CD/DD

Onward Strides Colossus - Tracklisting

1.Sovereign Throne


3.Behold! The Sword of Lock

4.Where No One Goes


6.Onward Strides Colossus


Andrew Backes - Bass

Lucas Barrey - Drums

Taylor D. Waring - Vocals/Guitar


Onward Strides Colossus is the new album from Psych Doom/Stoner Metallers Merlock who bring a more adventurous sound compared to their previous releases. The album is a kaleidoscope of different elements of Heavy Rock soundscapes which sees Merlock venture briefly in 1960’s Psych Rock and modern day Doom/Stoner Metal with a flashier Progressive style. You can even say Merlock aims for a STADIUM ROCK sound that brings memories of MUSE on certain parts of the album.

Opening song Sovereign Throne is deeply mysterious with Merlock offering a Post-Rock environment which even goes a slight 1960’s Psych Rock transition the seedy Doom/Stoner Metal grooves the band are known for. Heavy SABBATH and SLEEP based WEEDIAN influences allows Merlock to offer a more melodic and gloomy instrumental sound. Ambient soundscapes work surprisingly well with the stunning vocals that appear on the song. 

Second song Sunnbarrenn is an epic track running past the nine minutes mark with Merlock playing a harsher style of Post-Doom, Post-Metal and almost Down-tuned sounds for the first few moments of the track. There’s more emphasis on riffs and creative control here with Merlock showing some mighty Prog Rock detail but still retaining a harsh Stoner Metal flavour. Taylor’s vocals move effortlessly between many different styles which are perhaps his best vocal work to date. The song is packed full of deliciously dark instrumental sounds that sees Merlock playing a similar sound that Mastodon used to play back in their early formative years.

Third song Behold! The Sword Of Lock carries on that Ambient/Psych Metal structure but with a more THRASHIER sound that gives Merlock a more threatening presence to their sound. The song is very fast-paced and could be jarring for some. Though, the song does offer some of the heaviest grooves on the album. The second half of the track sees Taylor perform a more operatic and stadium rock performance where his vocals are concerned. The music are fantastic and show some genuine trippy Psychedelic creativity where the Doomed Out Moments overlap with the Sludge/Stoner Metal grooves that end the song on an exciting finish.

Fourth song Where No One Goes is the standout track with Merlock drawing upon an Proggy Post-Rock perspective that allows the sound of the album become more Spaced Out. The lyrical content is wonderfully dark and the music offers an END OF THE WORLD feeling. Intense drumming and sublime bass lines from Lucas and Andrew perhaps shine the brightest here. Though, the sonically powerful grooves from Taylor are great as well. There’s a distinctive solitary feeling on this album that feels like this track was recorded live. It’s brutally raw sounding but still draws the listener in with its epic use of multi-layered psychedelic sounds throughout the track.

The final two tracks of Somniloquy and Onward Strides Colossus is perhaps Merlock shine the most creatively speaking. 

Somniloquy is a wonderful Post-Doom/Post-Rock song with a haunting melodic score that shows a different caring side to Merlock with some of the most emotionally charged moments held on the album. Perhaps channelling MUSE and PALLBEARER in places but still undeniably Merlock. One of the other standout tracks on the album.

The final song Onward Strides Colossus is Merlock at their most heaviest and creative best. As they conjure grooves that are distant and moody whilst having a certain ABSTRACT feel to them. The song runs past the ten minutes mark, so Merlock offers a more progressive structure on this part of the album. However, the harsh and clean vocals from Taylor offers the listener a more Atmospheric style compared to the other tracks. The grooves are slowly played at first before moving up a gear for a classic style of Doom/Stoner Metal with violent outbursts of Psych Sludge Metal.

Onward Strides Colossus is boosted by excellent production values and with them having a slightly DIY approach, Merlock are fast becoming an essential part of the Underground Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal scenes. This is a first rate album packed full of many different twists and turns to delight the most jaded of music fans with. Merlock has released one of the first and must have essential albums of 2023.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to C Squared Music for the promo. 

Onward Strides Colossus will be available to buy on CD/DD from February 24th 2023.


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