Merchant – Beneath

Rating

Just the other day, I was less than enthused about a few 13-minute sludge tunes, but this thunderous Aussie outfit actually managed to grab my attention with these two. Beneath, the second album from Melbourne doom crew Merchant only has two tracks—but they both clock in around 15 minutes.

And yet, like I said, these ones are surprisingly pretty decent. “Guile as a Vice” begins the aural assault with some rumbling, grumbling bass lines, developing a fairly familiar pattern somewhat akin to Sleep’s Holy Mountain. This one wallows in the mire for a while, gradually adding in some cleaner guitar riffs—the effect is almost pleasant-sounding. It’s only when the first tar-lunged vocals come in around the five-minute mark that we get something more sinister. The riff that kicks in here is a real head-nodder, and I think that’s probably what grabbed me in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing ground-breaking or original here… but if I wanna nod my head to something for 15 minutes or so, I could probably do much worse.

Second song “Succumbing” is even more downtuned and downtrodden. Picture an Eyehategod tune stretched out to 15 minutes long, and you might have some idea. Hell, this one sorta reminds me of Zoroaster’s “Tualatin,” which is probably my favourite 15-minute sludge tune of all time. Not quite as many tempo changes on this one, mind you, although the swirling guitar solo does offer a slight change of pace, leading into a brief, drum-driven section shy of the five-minute mark. I think we could do without the three minutes of distortion effects at the end, though…

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Gruesome Greg

Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.

7.0 Rating