25 December 2012
Merlin - "Nactmar"
I knew it. I knew this would happen. Right after my favorite album of the year list comes out, an amazing record comes out. It's definitely one of the dangers of this job. I hate it so much.
Merlin has definitely changed styles. From the experimental/wizard rock sounds they were making in their beginnings with the Wrinngarth EP and their debut LP The Magician's Alliance, the terrifying and haunting drones on their Night Terror EP, the stoner metal/post rock sounds from Live From The Wizard's Lair and their debut live show (Pics here!), and this new album, these guys are very well versed. Each step of the way for these guys, I have pretty much loved it. And that definitely, definitely stays the same for their new LP Nactmar.
This LP is a continuation of the epic Night Terror EP, and dang. Merlin creates some of the most disturbing soundscapes I've heard this year. It begins with the track "A Letter Arrives" The tracks is this winding ambient soundscape, with a very windy bass drone hovering over a shimmering acoustic guitar. It's all very quiet and atmospheric and nice, but at the same time dark and unnerving. The next track "Daniel's 23rd Birthday" is a continuation of the first track, but with a much darker and developed drone and some more electric guitar raga. The next track however, "Trees Blocked Out The Sun Above" is just another thing all together. It just feels like the world is crashing down all around you on that track. It has a very black metal-esque breakdown in the middle, and then everything is just left in a very windy mass of drones and feedback. "Snow Rises Out Of The Ashes Of Our Past..." is a very nice and eerie guitar and drone piece. The very dusty soundscape behind Carter Lewis's guitar is really amazing as well. The piano that closes the track feels very dark and sinister. That piano leads right into the next track, "Julia". The track is a very lovely piano track, and while feeling very pretty at times, it is as equally dark and sinister as well. "The Cellar" is a 7 minute mind-numbing drone. It's very eerie and ambient, and just torturous at times (in a good way). "The Watcher" sounds like the sound track to a man awakening in a prison cell in an ancient castle and then being tortured by spirits. "Slowly Sinking Into The Frozen Deep" is a very nice mix of drones and acoustics. Definitely not the best track on here, but a great way to end the LP.
Merlin continues their venture with drones and experimentation in a direction that I really like and hope to hear them play more with in future albums as well. These guys continue to impress me more and more each time. Awesome album. Merry Christmas.