Album Review: Merlin – The Mortal

merlin

Band: Merlin | Album: The Mortal | Genre: Heavy Psych, Stoner metal | Year: 2019

From: Kansas City, (MO,) USA | Label: The Company

For fans of: Elder, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd

Buy: Bandcamp | Big Cartel | Apple Music

Merlin are one of the better examples of progressive stoner metal, and their last few albums have shown a clear musical evolution from dank groovemasters to artistically ambitious dank groovemasters. The saxophone which first appeared on 2018’s The Wizard now is more fully integrated, and with it, an injection of jazz influence. Blues elements are certainly present as well, but they don’t overpower, and many of the sludgy riffs are played with impressive restraint.

The Mortal appears to be something of a follow-up to The Wizard. Beyond their shared use of saxophone and similar titles, both close with an eponymous suite, and both those suites share musical and lyrical themes of magic. Continue reading “Album Review: Merlin – The Mortal”

Album Review: Ananda Mida – Cathodnatius

ananda

Band: Ananda Mida | Album: Cathodnatius | Genre: Psychedelic rock, Progressive rock, Stoner rock | Year: 2019

From: Venice, Italy | Label: Go Down Records

For fans of: ‘80s King Crimson, Spock’s Beard, Led Zeppelin, Kyuss

Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon | Apple Music

Italy has a proud history of producing some of the best progressive rock out there. At its peak in the early 1970s, the Italian scene was arguably on par with the British. The Italians carved out a unique sound for themselves, drawing heavily from jazz, classical, and folk and singing in their native language. Even now, a few bands play in this distinctly Italian style. Ananda Mida are not one of those bands.

That’s by no means a swipe against Ananda Mida. I’ve listened to and thoroughly enjoyed both their albums, but if you had played their music for me and asked me to guess, I would’ve told you they sound like they come from the American Southwest. They’ve got that sunny, desert-y stoner vibe commonly found in bands from the region. Blues riffs loomed large on their debut, 2016’s Anodnatius, interspersed with spacier interludes and a handful of more adventurous moments. Their new album, Cathodnatius, keeps that desert vibe, but they’ve amped up their experimentation, drawing influences from sources as diverse as early 1970s Pink Floyd, new wave, and math rock. Continue reading “Album Review: Ananda Mida – Cathodnatius”