(Good To Die Records)
Merso is a very interesting signing for Good To Die Records. The Seattle quartet is more post rock, than the usual, and excellent type of Pacific Northwest noisy rock that the label specializes in. Instead of hitting you squarely in the face from the outset, the band plays with dynamics, luring you in with mellower prog stylings before building to very dissonant and loud climaxes.
Plus, the band has a certain hazy darkness to them, that could only come from their home turf. They just have that vibe about them. That’s probably what connects them to other bands in their scene and on their label.
Originally, they were known as Leatherdaddy and put out an EP, The Plague House, three years ago, that was a more riff centric affair. They’ve totally revamped their sound for this album. Red World brings the loud, but in more controlled spurts. They have definitely given into the prog, because moments of this, sound like a modern update of early King Crimson, with some psychedelic moments, and those aforementioned controlled bursts of fury. This new sound was hinted at earlier this year on a two-song EP for Bernie Sanders.
Red World goes all in.
They also have a not-so-hidden weapon in vocalist/guitarist Tristan Sennholz, whose smooth falsetto, fits perfectly with their change in direction. It gives the album a dose of soul.
Opener, “Astoria” begins quietly and slowly builds to a jarring climax. “Reunion Show” is prog soul, while “Ten Years In A Juvenile Fantasy” continues down the prog/soul rabbit hole and builds to a pummeling climax. “Serial Killer” is as dark and menacing as its title.
The centerpiece of the album has to be the title track which is broken down into three parts. Part I starts quietly, with hints of acoustic guitar and Sennholz singing in a deeper register. It methodically builds in intensity leading up to the album closing 16 minute sturm and drang of Parts II & III, which start heavy, and switches between quiet and loud for its duration, throwing in a swirling psychedelic solo, before ending not with a bang, but a whisper.
Red World is an excellent record that stands neck and neck with more well known proggy post rock bands. It deserves to be heard by people outside of Seattle. It’s quite a ride.