What a great piece of cover art that is! It catches the eye and holds it. And it turns out that the music behind the artwork catches the ears and holds them, too. And for that matter, it has its way with your entire autonomic nervous system… as I’ll explain momentarily.
That cover art (by Cesar Adrian at Soulasphyx Arts) adorns Sealed In Blood, the debut album by the Vancouver, BC band Meridius, which is being released today on a pay-what-you-want basis via Bandcamp. It includes 10 tracks and almost 50 minutes of music, and it’s one hell of an electrifying rush.
The opening of “Into the Arena” is a heavy, sinister, mid-paced juggernaut of sound… but that opening is just there to push the fear of death to the forefront of your mind, right before Meridius make you think you’re never going to die… or if you will, it will be a glorious death.
After that tremendously brooding start, Meridius take flight in a tremendously galvanizing surge of hard-galloping thrash, segmenting the electrifying rocket ride of “Into the Arena” with high-flying melodies and slower phalanxes of convulsive groove, as well as acetylene-hot soloing.
The song digs its hooks in fast and deep, and Meridius don’t let go. Every song (with a few slower exceptions) is a thriller, with great riffs, deep, gut-punching bass drives, and blazing drumwork. As you’ll discover in that very first song, the vocals are also really strong, and Eric Willmott can change them on a dime, from raw and nasty to sky-soaring and heroic.
The music is full of warlike fire and fury, full of anthemic melodies (as well as some pretty grim and grievous ones), packed with hyper-speed drum- and fret-work, and just as capable of triggering convulsive headbanging with the force of their groove-heavy breakdowns as they are of stirring up violent bouts of moshing. And the amazing soloing proves to be not only fast and furious enough to melt the strings but also fluid and sinuous; you’d need a damned big arena to contain them.
The songwriting is quite good, and so is the band’s choice of moments to give the listener a bit of a breather (as in the well-placed “Gone At Last“, which has the feel of a classic heavy metal ballad — before it kicks into a higher gear).
The lyrical themes tend to be bloody, violent, and doomed, but the music makes you feel explosively alive.
Okay, what am I forgetting?
Oh yeah, the autonomic nervous system. Per The Font of All Human Knowledge, that’s the brain’s control system “that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal”. It’s also “the primary mechanism in control of the fight-or-flight response”.
This album produces a whole lot of primal, involuntary responses, including but not limited to a surging heart rate, rapid breathing, a strong desire to fuck something (or fuck something up), and the adrenaline surge that comes from that fight-or-flight choice. I guess you might also wet yourself. Or maybe I should just speak for myself… and you should just listen to the album.