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Merrimack – Of Grace And Gravity

merrimack – of grace and gravity


Personally I am always fascinated by the difference in appreciation certain bands receive. Sometimes it feels like even the deepest analyses are not able to explain why one band is given so much credit and praise, while the other band gets only a fraction of that – while the music on offer is not all too different. When I apply phenomenon on the French Black Metal scene, it is obvious that bands like Antaeus or Deathspell Omega are getting the majority of the common recognition. But a band like Hell Militia, who delivered a massive record with ‘Hollow Void’ in 2022, never seems to get their fair share of acknowledgement. Another example of a band that seems to be continuously out of the picture within the French Black Metal scene is Merrimack. Even if both Hell Militia and Merrimack have the support of the same and rather big record label, it feels like they are criminally underappreciated.

But fortunately both bands don’t really seem to care, or at least, they stoically continue doing their own things. The bands working pace might have something to do with it; Hell Militia needed no less than ten years to come up with a new record and Merrimack’s latest recordings date from 2017. Yet, and that is where the comparison between the bands end, both Hell Militia and Merrimack seem to just focus on quality and not so much on quantity.

It might have taken the band almost seven years to come up with a follow-up to 2017’s ‘Omegaphilia’, listening to ‘Of Grace And Gravity’ feels like both albums were released in short succession only. The trademark Merrimack sound is still very much present and the musical core of the band is left untouched. Oh, well, trademark Merrimack… In fact the band is built upon the visionary Black Metal touchstones that are created by Ofermod. A sort of Black Metal that is identifies as brimming with distressing melodies that are deeply embedded into the DNA of the riffs and an outstanding sense for contrariness that evokes a feeling of unease throughout the whole sonic experience. To this musical base the barking vocals are an element that plays a fundamental role in giving the blazing Black Metal its unique sort of ambiance.

For sure, Ofermod can be seen as the master, the creator, but there are a lot of bands that has taken that band’s blueprint and made it their own. The most notable, of course, is Watain. But Watain has taken that musical formula into more accessible, almost mainstream, territories. Opposed to that take on the concept, ‘Of Grace And Gravity’ sounds like a breath of fresh air. Of course, a comparison is not needed, but the finesse and sense of sophistication that Merrimack is able to put to the table is really of different level and in a the contemporary Black Metal scene, it knows very few equals.

If anything, ‘Of Grace And Gravity’ only fuels my perception that Merrimack is an awfully underrated band. I am a bit sceptical that this great new record will change any of that, I mean, if the band’s preceding work didn’t change it, why should this one do that? And, again, just to be sure, that has nothing to do with the music on offer. But maybe it is just fine this way, Merrimack is just one of those best kept secrets that operates out in the open; Merrimack offers Black Metal for the true connoisseur.

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