I've said it (many times) before and I will undoubtedly say it (many times) again: there's nothing quite like witnessing a band evolve over the course of their first few releases. In the case of Spokane's Merlock, I first became familiar with their work back when ye olde Village was a youthful and untested participant in the metal blog-o-sphere. These self-described forlorn stoners had released a debut 3-track EP that I found pretty damn enjoyable--to blatantly plagiarize myself: "Merlock is subtly off-kilter in the best of ways, an odd amalgamation of The Jesus Lizard’s intrinsic weirdness, and the astral wanderings of Merlin...the result is a kind of caustic, trippy, and rough-around-the-edges stoner doom, and it lights a little fire in my heavy (metal) heart." Their second and third releases, prolapse and that which speaks..., felt like a clear maturation and movement into more morose post-doomy waters, and while I regrettably reviewed neither, they certainly satisfied this particular scribe.
That leaves us here, at the precipice of their forthcoming album/project/compilation, prepared to observe once more the fruit of their potential. You Cannot Be Saved is a collection of assorted moments across the Merlock timeline, ranging from rerecorded tracks from earlier releases, to a single plucked from an upcoming 2022 project, to an "Electric Funeral" cover. While the whole thing is certifiably fantastic, the track we are discussing here today is a re-tooling of Idolon, one of my favorite Merlock songs to date. Without further ado: give it a listen below! As always, we'll meet ye on the other side.
"Idolon (return)," very much like its original form, squirms and writhes with an odd and fascinating motion, covering a whole lot of ground--or perhaps space?--in the process. That said, it is an undoubtedly heavier and darker affair. These 8 minutes are punctuated by a distinctly haunting dreaminess, an enveloping swell. The plodding riffs, crashing cymbals, and vocals--alternating between swallowed roars and hypnotic yawning cleans--set the stage for the most enjoyable process of drowning one might render imaginable. This track pulls you in, and while there's no real indication of where the riptide goes, "Idolon (Return)" maintains a level of immersive interest that rivals, dare I say, the 2020 version. I particularly enjoy the last few minutes, wherein the guitar rises out of the sludge to deliver a soulful psychedelic solo. This shimmering touch at the end is a nice capstone on a track that spends most of its runtime dwelling in the shadows. Excellent use of contrast, and an excellent example of Merlock's increasingly nuanced approach to songwriting over time,
I like Merlock because they are patently weird in a way that feels nearly intangible. Their brand of psychedelic post-doom/sludge isn't overtly chaotic or artsy, but despite a distinct calling card, everything subtly stands a few inches away from genre expectation and convention. This track--and the release as a unique package--feels like a prime representation of their sound and ethos. Again: subtly off-kilter. Needless to say, I'm a fan, and recommend you check out You Cannot Be Saved in its entirety upon release this coming Friday, Nov. 19th. If you're particularly impatient, check out this video.
Merlock - You Cannot Be Saved will be released Nov. 19th, and is available for pre-orderhere.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasant.