June 9th will be a glorious day for black metallers everywhere, because for the first time in five years French titans MERRIMACK are back with their fifth album Omegaphilia through Season of Mist – and it is soul shattering. Unlike its relatively lack lustre precursor The Acausal Mass (AFM Records 2012), Omegaphilia is a bubbling concoction of everything you want in a black metal record. With only seven songs and barely scraping forty-three minutes overall, each song feels perfectly crafted and expertly placed.
The piece begins almost comically with, what sounds to be, a rattling of bones on a string, but all humour is quashed with the rapid addition of shaman-like drums and guttural, folky voices chanting something inaudible but probably quite unpleasant. Cauterizing Cosmos quickly establishes the overall depressive theme of the album with one of the most satisfyingly dark riffs this writer has heard since Deathcrush. Of course, the excitement doesn’t end there, The Falsified Son cements the darkness of Omegaphilia with absolutely crushing blast beats and, surprisingly -towards the end of the song, an almost theatrically epic melody with no compromise to the black metal. This Homeric offering is beautifully complemented and marvellously challenged by Apophatic Weaponry. By reverting back to a slow, introspectively simple riff, then exploding into a cacophony of evil blast beats and pained vocals from newcomer Vestal, one could be forgiven for mistaking this song for something from a SCHAMMASCH album.
Like a biblical trumpet, Gutters of Pain heralds the midpoint of the album with yet more riffs of almost apocalyptic proportions. Here is a song that proudly challenged the listener not to stop what they’re doing, jump on the nearest piece of furniture and headbang. Unfortunately, one writer found herself quickly drifting off with the following two songs Sights in the Abysmal Lure and Cesspool Coronation which fall into the trap of becoming somewhat generic, stock black metal songs. In fairness, however, Cesspool Coronation does demand attention in the end, with the addition of a vexed passage of verse intoned hurriedly and layered over beautifully sinister-sounding music.
Leaving truly the best for last, Omegaphilia concludes with its seventh offering At The Vanguard of Deception. Distinctly depressive and nudging frequently into DSBM, At The Vanguard of Deception boasts an absolutely shattering melody; one that sticks with the listener, a rare enough feat in black metal. This is a song that flings itself boldly from the depressive minor scale of the overall black metal sound, to the enchantingly major, almost operatic, choir like a devastating pendulum of acute emotion.
MERRIMACK‘s Omegaphilia is a masterful amalgamation of various sub-genres within black metal. From the folky incantations of Cauterising Cosmos to the avant-guard riffs of Apophatic Weaponry to the overwhelming melancholy of At The Vanguard of Deception, this is an album that defiantly demands space in any CD collection.
Omegaphilia is set for release on June 9th via Season of Mist.
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