Monday, July 20, 2009

Merauder - Master Killer (1996)

My friend Friel has never heard Merauder, so I made a promise to send Master Killer to him. Then, I figured I'd just send it to the rest of the internet as well.

This is death metal recontextualized as syncopated rock music. Nu-metal showed the world how guys with braids can do this in the worst possible way; Merauder showed the world how guys with braids can do this in a way that I like so much.

Merauder understands that the best way to make their listeners frown uncontrollably is to play at a steady, mid-paced tempo. There is some sort of evolutionary short circuit about heavy guitars with a backbeat at ~150 bpm that causes a severe frown reflex. Major thirds are prevalent, texturing riffs with a distinct flavor: Merauder's most recognizable moment, the big mosher at 1:57 in "Master Killer," makes use of this sound.*

You know, it's interesting that I like this record as much as I do, as the evolution of death metal and hardcore into stoogish w's downtuning their guitars and putting the kick drum on the "and" bums me the fuck out. However, sometimes it's just done really, really well. I am an adult, and this record regularly makes me see red and mosh in my bedroom.

*Please watch this whole video. Thank you have a nice day.


daniel shea said...

This is one of the albums I had a draft guest post made up for. I've tried my hand at a few, but apparently I'm terrible at writing about music.

Todd said...

Sorry to steal your thunder dogg. On my own blog. God, you're so presumptuous.

Tracy said...

Thanks, hadn't heard this one from them. Great album!

Peter said...

I've been thinking about why I don't like "Master Killer" that much, when it seems like I should, and also when I think the riffs are pretty consistently amazing. I just listened to the whole thing front to back and came up with some ideas.

First of all, the entire album is about 10 bpm or so too fast for my taste.

The MAIN issue I have with this album, however, is that I think the steady quality of the riffs actually works against it on some level. Almost all the riffs are within a very tight zone of complexity, speed, and catchiness, so it's mostly hard to get psyched about a mosh part when it sounds so similar to the verse part.

For this reason, the parts also never really feel like they're transitioning into each other, they feel very interchangable. I can't shake the feeling that Merauder parts are like Lego blocks.

Also, all three musical components (guitar, drum, and bass) are playing almost all the time. ("Life is Pain" is an exception to this gripe) The best bands of this genre (Madball, Biohazard, Cold as Life, and No Warning) all use a lot of negative space and pauses where only one of these components or none of them are playing, especially leading into mosh parts. This gives the listener a second to regain a sense of relativity and also to think about things like timberlands, and dudes with puffy jackets and pitbulls. Also, think about the dramatic pause before the mosh part in "Break Stuff". That is the kind of thing I get stoked on. Merauder, on the other hand, has a sort of monochromatic consistency that I usually associate with boring crust.

There is also way too much double bass.

In closing, the cover art of this album is so bad that I actively avoid looking at it when I scroll past it in iTunes.

Todd said...

This is interesting because a lot of the things that you list as criticisms are things that I like about this record. Merauder very obviously were/are huge Sepultura fans, and the flow created by the similarity in riffs is something that I really admire about both bands. The consistency belies a great sense of composition and rhythmic intuition.

Also, the fact that Merauder is not a "mosh part" band makes them infinitely more listenable to me. I understand getting "hype" and/or "buck" for a No Warning breakdown, but that style of song-writing is much more disposable as far as I'm concerned. Merauder is still writing what amount to verse/chorus song structures, but there is more interesting narrative in them than there is in the typical "mosh-centric" structure.

Peter said...

well you obviously didn't grow up on the streets like i did.

Anonymous said...

LMAO @ Peter claiming the streets as a reason to be able to criticise hardcore more or less. You could grow up in the streets listening to hip hop or r n b, nothing heavy like hardcore, so it's just a funny comment to make, not hating on ya. The rest of what you say is well thought out for sure. LOL @ "10 BPM" too, precise, eh?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, these guys suck. Pig Destroyer, DA, GridLink, Max Roach yes. Merauder, No. What is the singer ranting and raving and gesticulating about anyway? Over it. Thanks for sharing of course. Just my opinion and your blog is awesome.

Todd said...

Man anonymous, I have very little patience for spastic grindcore, so we are just not on the same page here at all!