Of Grace and Gravity


Balancing Atmospheric Melodic with lo-fi brutality, “Of Grace and Gravity” is both haunting and bludgeoning.
March 25, 2024

MERRIMACK has been producing severe Black Metal for 30 years and counting. On March 8, 2024 they released their latest album “Of Grace and Gravity” via extreme metal purveyors Season of Mist. This, their seventh album (one EP, six LPs), includes seven tracks across 49 minutes—yep, that’s an average of seven minutes for each track. A whole lot of sevens going on there. We’ll ignore the fact that the album was released on the 8th, though, and the other fact that they had one split, a compilation, and three demos. Seven is the number, and the number is seven.

Balancing Atmospheric Melodic with lo-fi brutality, the album is both haunting and bludgeoning. Standout tracks are “Sulphurean Synods” (see also the subtly disturbing video), “Wounds That Heal” which spins like two distinct massive compositions, and the closing track, “Embalmers Wine” which recalls echoes of the opening track, bringing us full circle.

You won’t hear this said often about Black Metal, but I love the production values of this album. It is decidedly lo-fi, of course, with subdued bass and muffled percussion overlaid with a steady haze of grayscale distortion, tremolo riffs, and demonic vocals . . . but it is also as velvety as it is bleak. I also love that every now and then through the left channel the drums punch through like a rusty nail through flesh.  

Lyrically, “Of Grace and Gravity” invokes a return to an esoteric and purified Satanism, one devoid of superficial and performative flourishes; one absent of Hollywood commercialism and Halloween gimmicks. Setting the tone in the opening track, “Sulphurean Synods,” Vestal spits: “And you still believe in them? / In these occult and empty ministries, / stuffed with fetid perfumes?” In the band’s words, “The listener, questioned in their faith of the shadows and occult idols. Dare believe in the sulfurous whispers echoing through this blackened masterpiece.”

Some readers may recognize the phrase Grace and Gravity as the title of a posthumous work of philosopher/mystic Simone Weil. Technically it is not a book at all, but rather a collection of passages from her notebooks. An exegesis of sorts. The opening statement reads “All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception.” The passages then go on, one after the other suggesting a linear narrative but the ideas they invoke are anything but. “Of Grace and Gravity,” the album by MERRIMACK, is similar in its execution. It cuts a straight even wound, but the blood it lets spreads like fog in a cemetery.

After 30 years MERRIMACK has consistently challenged and provoked its listeners, which is difficult in the Extreme Metal space. “Of Grace and Gravity” challenges the listener in a number of ways. Philosophically, and maybe even spiritually, it challenges one’s integrity and devotion to an idea—call it grace; musically it challenges one to stand firm in the BM tradition of disquiet and distortion—call it gravity.



8 / 10









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"Of Grace and Gravity" Track-listing:

1. Sulphurean Synods

2. Sublunar Despondency

3. Dead and Distant Clamors

4. Wounds That Heal

5. Starving Crowns

6. Under the Aimless Spheres

7. Embalmer's Wine


Merrimack Lineup:

Perversifier – Guitars

Daethorn – Bass

Blastum – Drums

A.K. – Guitars

Vestal – Vocals


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