Of Entropy and Life Denial

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There is a subset of black metal, almost always European in origin, that at its most complex and technically proficient is a completely logical progression from (at best) Larks' Tongues in Aspic-era King Crimson and (at worst) Tarkus-era Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Such is the case with the second album by the French death metal band Merrimack. (What the band found evocatively doomy about the name of a picturesque small town in New Hampshire known for its liberal arts college has apparently been lost in translation.) Perhaps influenced by the French prog rock bands of the 1970s and '80s (Magma, etc.) known for their blend of hardcore-style speed and dazzling chops, Of Entropy and Life Denial is an epic onslaught of tricky time signatures, complex guitar riffage, and whiplash rhythms. The technique is flawless, but there's evident passion in the playing that keeps it from being merely showoffy. The drawback for old-school prog rockers will be the doomy vocal style (which invariably sounds comical to anyone who isn't already a death metal fan) and lyrics and song titles that make ELP sound like the Ramones. Otherwise, this is a solid example of the more technically minded end of modern metal.

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