Usually I would start a Hey! Listen to This! article with some sort of broader subject matter, trying to compare band x to band y, and so on. And while, yes, Merlin, and their third album Electric Children do have slight similarities to other bands (Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats comes to mind, just barely), they are so singular in their overall sound that it’s almost unfair to use comparisons. It’s not that Merlin has done something completely unique, though; rather, they have combined such an interesting variety of influences, sounds and instrumentation, and blended them in such a way that it turns out to be something very different than what you’re used to.
Just take the first track, “Bad Trip,” that starts off with what seems to be, out of all things, a singing bowl—an instrument that is later used in the album, too—but then breaks into a frenzy of stoner guitars, while singer Carter Lewis switches between clean vocals and harsh singing that borders on screams. The album’s overall sound is like a mix of stoner metal and doom metal. And while those two genres are technically interrelated, Electric Children makes light that the two are also very different. The chorus on the title track sounds completely influenced by doom, while the instrumentation as a whole generally seems more psychedelic and stoner influenced.
To top it all off, Merlin ends up using some really well-placed synthesizers in the second half of Electric Children, that actually remind me of a project called Sinoia Caves; we’re talking really sci-fi-inspired, analog synths, straight out of a 60s B movie. The 23-minute closing track “Tales of the Wasteland” puts synths to good use, without completely forgetting about the band’s normal, doomy sound. So, if you’re a metal fan looking for something a little different, or even a hard rock fan looking to cross over into metal, try out Merlin.
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