If you’ve been following this space recently, you must have heard of Merge at least once, if not more. Hailing from Paris, France, the band has already scored a few successes within the past two years such as European tours and a slot at Groezrock festival 2013, particularly thanks to a promising debut EP ‘Transmission’ (2012). After a very busy year that finished on a highly positive note, which is no other than a signing with label Red Cord Records, Merge are getting ready for the imminent release of their debut full-length ‘Elysion’.
First comforting point is that this record holds Merge‘s full print in the way it sounds and even confirms and reinforces the identity they have been building throughout the time. From the introducing track A Perpetual Spring, we can immediately recognize those aerial soundscapes, backed with growing drum beats that immediately set the tone with an impression of grandeur. This is a recurrent trait that will be echoed later during the powerful Us Against our Cities and its solemn chorus. Merge take the listener into their universe from the very beginning and that’s what’s interesting with ‘Elysion’.
Consisting in 10 very different, yet complementary tracks, this album is consistent and ridiculously transcending. The way that vocals are executed grabs you by the throat, while hard-hitting bass lines enhance that bittersweet feeling of a tender aggressiveness. Songs are complex and finely worked; we can hear it for instance on the sixth track, Cometa.
As for the previously released songs such as Joy Illusion, Wolf’s Dagger or even Divinia Comedia, we came to the realization that they sound surprisingly (positively) different put in their original environment. Each one of the songs on this album actually highlight a different side of the band, showcasing their skills and expertise on different levels, which is in the end the interesting point in this release, as a whole. Furthermore, the sequence is quite smooth and well-balanced between calm and tougher moments, switching from clean to unclean vocals, without falling into something generic. That’s another quality of ‘Elysion’; while it contains all the ingredients for a good post-hardcore/metalcore release, things are kept subtle and sober, both in the music and the imagery surrounding it.
Finally, the record rounds off on a long, wonderful instrumental track that seems to sum up efficiently everything this album had to tell us.
In a few words, ‘Elysion”s success probably lies in its sobriety and finesse, proving that the band reached an interesting level of maturity. Overall, Merge did a fantastic job with this debut album and the band definitely masters and confirms a strong musical identity. Brace yourselves, Merge is ready to take over the alternative world!
Merge : Debut album ‘Elysion’ – out on February 18 through Red Cord Records
Album preorder available here
Album release show in Paris on February 21st, 2014