Merrimack - Grey Rigorism
Osmose Productions
Black Metal
10 songs (61:32)
Release year: 2009
Osmose Productions
Reviewed by James

Despite only receiving the scarcest of attention during their lifespan, Merrimack are survivors. They've been toiling away in the murky depths of the French black metal underground for fifteen years now, putting out splits with such notable acts as Finnish mainstays Sargeist and the infamous Hirilorn, members of which now allegedly make up the mysterious Deathspell Omega. Grey Rigorism is only their third album proper, and with it comes a signing to the legendary Osmose Records and er, some rather Dimmu Borgir-esque promo pictures. Grey Rigorism however, comes out of the gate with atonal, malevolent riffs. Despite being around for years, opener The Golden Door is thoroughly 21st Century black metal, sounding like Deathspell Omega meshed with the rocking approach of latter-day Satyricon. I can't say Merrimack are doing anything novel here, with a good chunk of Grey Rigorism sounding directly ripped from Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice. And yet, every time you think you've got a song figured out, it shapeshifts into catchy, streamlined black metal. It's the way Grey Rigorism can't be pinned down that keeps it interesting, tracks like Omniabsence chucking groove, thrash, and all-out blastbeating fury into the mix in just over five and a half minutes. The band have come a little late to the punch, admittedly. This kind of chaotic black metal seems to have gone of style recently (and don't try to tell me black metal isn't as trend dominated as any other genre), and at times Grey Rigorism feels dated, and not in a good way.

But frankly, innovation and originality aren't utterly integral to black metal, and once you get past the fact that you could be listening to any trendy black metal album from say, 2005 or so, Grey Rigorism is a slice of solid black metal. The band are all talented musicians, and frontman Terrorizt growls commandingly enough. If you're prepared to go along with it, there's a great deal of atmosphere in the pounding, machine-like riffing, the triggered drum sound actually working here. There's something to be said for the fact that even the lengthier songs such as the title track (which injects some much needed melody and might be the best song here), manage to fly by without seeming like a chore. It's still a bit long at over an hour, and you might find that the relentless oppressive mood starts sapping your spirit. Outside of the title track there's not much melody here, Grey Rigorism mostly dealing with twisting, discordant riffs.

And perhaps the fatal flaw with Grey Rigorism, the reason that I can't give it a truly top score, is that it's so unremittingly bleak, for the most part. Not a bad thing in itself, black metal in general thriving on negative moods. But there's no pay off, nothing that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, nothing that makes you feel the drizzly, downcast riffs are working towards something. Certainly worth your time if you've exhausted this year's big black metal releases, or if you're a hardcore Deathspell Omega fan gagging for anything resembling a new album from your heroes. But ultimately Grey Rigorism is a solid, workmanlike release that does it's job well enough, but does nothing to really endear itself to anyone but a fairly hardcore subdivision of black metal fans. Still, if this had been released in 2006 on Norma Evangelium Diaboli you'd probably have kvlt sorts the world over freaking out over it. Go figure.

Killing Songs :
The Golden Door, Omniabsence, Grey Rigorism
James quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Merrimack that we have reviewed:
Merrimack - Of Entropy and Life Denial reviewed by Tony and quoted 90 / 100
Merrimack - Ashes of Purification reviewed by Tony and quoted 89 / 100
2 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:34 pm
View and Post comments