Merlock, that which speaks … review (2020)

Merlock unleashes an intense labyrinth of ruin and decay with the epic EP that which speaks…

This Spokane, Washington foursome released a three-song demo in 2018 that had great, traditional sounding metal reminiscent of Ritchie Blackmore in a dark mood. This new one is different, more straight ahead doom and sludge, and with even grimmer themes than the 2018 songs. The press photos of the band are tongue-in-cheek and light hearted, but the lyrics sure aren’t. How about this stanza from the leadoff song, “spit out your purple lung/they will drown you/as you learn to swim/so claw your way to the surface,” and then this, “your reality devoured/in this realm of hopelessness/disgorge your viscera/abandon your human form.” Not exactly a traditional letter home, eh?

A lonely hum and a faraway bass line eases you into “Idolon,” the first song on the album. The build is steady then steep, with heavy a bass presence throughout and hammer drop cliffs in a couple places. The vocals alternate between hoarse shrieks and melodic incantations. A wailing guitar solo closes the door near the end. “Prolapse” is next, and is more up-tempo and has a death metal tone to start, before turning Opethish then clamping down on the doom artery at the halfway point. “[vessel]” is a song where the music is the absolute perfect match to the narrative of the lyrics, “wandering through this world barren of true light/the moon eats shadows on a sun it swallows whole.” Hopelessness objectified. The last word is “Condemnation,” which seems fitting. Don’t let the peppy opening vamp fool you – the path ahead is dour in the extreme. The vocals at the beginning are a hissing reptile, and at the end, a disembodied tortured spirit. This album is an experience, and it will put you in a very particular place. I really got into this music and I can’t wait to hear what Merlock does next. Recommended.

Out now and available at Bandcamp, that which speaks… is ready for the taking. It is labeled as an EP, but with a running time of just over thirty minutes, it is as long as a lot of “full-length” albums I have bought in my day.


Merlock, that which speaks … review (2020)