Merrimack - OmegaphiliaThe French are well-known for pushing envelopes in the black metal genre. From Deathspell Omega‘s angular tremolo attack to Blut Aus Nord‘s atonal warped melodies and bizarre trip-hop rhythms, France has proven to be a fertile breeding ground for innovative black metal. So when Paris’ Merrimack stands out by sounding Scandinavian, well, it’s gonna stick out like a sore thumb. To their credit, they’ve stayed the course in terms of tradition while simultaneously sharpening their attack, crafting four albums of blistering darkness and Marduk-esque evil. However, their last album, 2012’s The Acausal Mass, left me a bit flat in terms of songwriting and vocals. Now the same line-up that crafted that album has had time to gel a bit, so Omegaphilia should, by default, be a better album, right?

First, the good news. Omegaphilia contains two of the best songs the band has penned to date. “Apophatic Weaponry” successfully blends the atmosphere of doom metal and classic black metal, and by the song’s second half, it soars with a tremendous tremolo melody by guitarists Perversifier and A.K. The track preceding it, “The Falsified Son,” acts as the album’s defiant high point, opening with one of the best 6/8 tremolo waltzes I’ve ever heard. Daethorn’s Bolt Thrower-like bass tone elevates the icy onslaught, and Vestal gives one helluva performance, growling and rasping with conviction. Of all the songs on Omegaphilia, “The Falsified Son” is the song I return to the most.

And by “I return to the most,” it’s really the only song I come back to on a regular basis. While there are no bad performances, the majority of Omegaphila feels pedestrian in comparison. There’s something to be said about hammering down a formula and polishing it to a fine sheen, but there’s a need for something to be memorable, and the majority of Omegaphilia floats by. Opener “Cauterizing Cosmos” begins with ritualistic noises, but once the song takes off, the delivery is flat. “Sights in the Abysmal Lure” lasts only five minutes, but feels twice as long. Finally, in the grand tradition of Merrimack albums that close with overly long “epic” numbers, “At the Vanguard of Deception” left me bored to tears four minutes into its nine-minute length. Everything that needed to be said has been said before, and often with more memorable results.

Merrimack 2017
At least the Andrew Guillotin production job captured the fury admirably. Don’t let the number below fool you, because Omegaphilia never feels like a pain to listen to. The bass cuts through the mire admirably, Blastum’s drums never sounded fake or distorted, and the guitars possess some major heft. I just wish the same could be said of the songwriting. Again, there are no bad moments, but aside from two tracks, it’s not overly memorable, either. And when their country (and label) mates The Great Old Ones dropped a Top Ten-qualified monster of an album earlier this year, I was expecting Merrimack to respond in kind. Instead, it feels like more of the same.

As a fan of their earlier work, I went into Omegaphilia hoping to get blown back in the iciest of fashions. Instead, it made me want to revisit their second album, the awesome Of Entropy and Life Denial from 2006, for the umpteenth time. I have hope that they will rediscover the magic of that beast of an album, because glimpses of it exist on Omegaphilia, but not enough for a full recommendation. Bummer.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Website: facebook.com/merrimackofficial
Releases Worldwide: June 9th, 2017

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  • Heldarc

    Crucified vagina and uterus with fetus inside…that would make one splendid site background.

    • Frost15

      In the deep web maybe…

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      Something something Trump / Pence 2020 logo?

      • Heldarc

        Which part would represent Trump? And who will do the grabbing?…

    • Nukenado

      Angry B-movie Guy?
      How can less gore be more? That’s impossible!

    • Nag Dammit

      What do it means? It hurts mine brains.

    • IBlackened

      Too bad (or good?) this is not AotM material.

      • Heldarc

        Yeah, that was what I was referring to, not that I was about to start some Obscure gynecology of Dr. Vulvogoreius fanpage or something.

    • sir_c

      Come to think of it, thematically the Ayreon backdrop is not very far off

  • Absolomb

    The music is better than that awful cover.

    • Zach Ward

      I just now noticed it’s a vagina. Lovely….

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        WHUTS AN VAGINA

        • Zach Ward

          A temporary receptacle for children. DUHHHH!!!!

        • sir_c

          It’s family of the goats, as they both belong to the horny species.

    • Grymm

      Yeah, that cover is in poor taste.

      • Here’s Johnny

        poor taste in extreme metal, really?

        • DrChocolate

          I just had a serious eye roll reaction to it. It just smacks of ‘trying’ to shock rather than just being natural shocking. The ‘effort’ ends up jumping the shark and flopping into desperate and childish. Implied violence towards women doesn’t help either. That cover flat honks.

          • Here’s Johnny

            whatever, i think its the uncensored one anyway. my copy has a diff cover.

        • Grymm

          Yep, such a thing exists.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      I SEE GOAT SKULLS WHEN I LOOK AT VAGINAS

      • Nukenado

        You’re my favorite raw concrete container in the whole internet.

      • Nag Dammit

        Reverse it and I’m with you.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    FVCK YEAH MERRIMACK

    • sir_c

      THEM BR)))TAL BOAT OF YORE

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    I always liked these guys, but I can’t help but picture a corpse-painted hobbit when I see their name.

  • Nag Dammit

    Nice review once again grym. Gotta take this opportunity to thank you and the rest of the AMG staff for your tireless devotion to actually reviewing music critically and not just writing wank tributes.

    Had to go elsewhere to read a review of Jorns new slab and to say I was disappointed with the quality of the reviews is an understatement. Most just listed the personnel and spoke about how many albums he’s made. They never once examined the music. And the production? Pfft. Not a mention.

    Long story short. Cheers for caring about the music guys.

  • herrschobel

    and the award for the most awful cover of the month goes to these Mofos …. uarg

    • Kaamuz Sumaak

      yeah, when I saw it I thought.. well, is this a tortured angry female fronted band?..

  • Drew Music

    Eryn Non Dae are another excellent French blackened-something band, should anyone be looking for more.
    For even more more-ness, Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions has a sampler available on Bandcamp loaded with French fantasticity downloadable for however much you care to give them, if anything (but you still totally should, like, give them monies if you can.)

  • junkyhead

    I enjoyed this album, there’s some killer tracks on it!