The Smashing Skull Sessions

The Smashing Skull Sessions is a podcast, interview and review website, set up to showcase and support the underground rock and metal scenes. Our goal is to promote artists and bands from right across the globe, giving them another voice and another forum in which to get their music out to a greater audience. We also have a new review series, The Review Room, which is another unique way of getting bands and artists some extra coverage and promotion

Merrow - Mojave Repressions

"Precise, palm muted riffs which go hand in hand with some atonal and dissonant parts. The way this track shifts from full throttle to being very sludgy is also so surprising that it caught me off guard for a second"

If you are slightly interested in guitars and musical gear in general, there is a pretty good chance that you heard of Keith Merrow. He made a name reviewing guitars, pedals and amps for quite a while. Over the last couple of years, he has shifted away from being a YouTube content creator, and more towards creating and releasing some very well received albums and EP’s in various different projects ( Conquering Dystopia, Demisery, Alluvial and more recently, Nightmarer). Apart from that he also releases music under his own name. While dawning his own name this EP has a lot of incredible guest musicians on it. Chris Finster, Leon Delmuerte previously in Nails, Gord Olson, the other half of Demisery and Kerim “Krimh” Lechner, previously in Decapitated Behemoth and currently the drummer for Septic Flesh.

So, onto the album! Mojave Repressions opens with some somber tones in the shape of Tumbleweed, which is brilliant at setting the mood for the next 25 minutes. This track has a lot of sonic soundscapes and atmosphere, all paired together with riffs that dabble a lot into dissonant and atonal territory and would be fitting for every modern contemporary black-metal band today. If you are a fan of Ulcerate or Deathspell Omega you should be right at home here. Dissonant arpeggiated riffs paired with blast beats and unresolving playing, makes this whole song very hard to grasp while at the same time, burying you deeper into the rabbit-hole. As it should be no surprise, the musicianship on display is absolutely incredible. From very tightly played riffs to some very brief but tasty solos this track has a lot to keep extreme metal listeners happy.

The following Track Palmdale Cemetery picks up the speed immensely. Blast beats and super groovy riffs paired with some atonal playing is all over the place here. While this may sound as though the song is unapproachable and hard to grasp, it is actually the opposite, as it’s quite catchy, if that even applies to extreme metal. Apart from going full steam ahead and just blast anyone away, a lot of melodic goodness can be witnessed here. Probably the song that is the closest to traditional Black and Death Metal.

After assaulting everyone who dares to listen with the previous track the follow up Mumbles feels a lot like the influence of Keith’s latest project Nightmarer starts to creep in more and more into his songwriting. The opening riff alone is so reminiscent of Simon Hawemanns Playing (Ex - War From A Harlots Mouth, and founder of Nightmarer ) that I cannot wait to see what these guys will come up with on their next release. What differentiates this song from the just mentioned band is the long melodic solo towards the second half of the track. A very interesting and clever contrast that blends well with the dark and haunting tone this song has up to this point.

What could come after this? Maybe the piece of music that feels the most out of place on this EP. Gravitational feels more like a Behemoth song that kinda got lost on its way to the next record of the polish Black metal powerhouse. It spirals from epic orchestration to tremolo-picked blast beat-filled riffs. While still a decent song it feels the most unfitting to the rest of Mojave Repressions

What follows is probably the most diverse and strongest track on this entire release. The title-track is such an assault on your senses and combines all the influences that have been on display for the last 20 minutes. Precise, palm muted riffs which go hand in hand with some atonal and dissonant parts. The way this track shifts from full throttle to being very sludgy is also so surprising that it caught me off guard for a second.

While I am really enjoying this EP, I can imagine that it might be a bit hard to grasp for people who are not into technical metal, and at times it also feels like it has been made for musicians. If you don’t shy away from that, and getting your ears blown off by some almost proggy riffs while still being very heavy, Mojave Repressions is for you. After listening to this on repeat for quite some time I just cannot wait for the next Nightmarer release to see where this sound is going!