BAND: Marijannah (Singapore)
RELEASE: Till Marijannah (2018)
LABEL: Pink Tank Records
REVIEWER: Arthur Urquiola
FIND MORE INFO HERE: https://www.facebook.com/marijannah/
PICK UP THE RECORD HERE: https://www.pink-tank-records.de/
It’s a considerable enough achievement for a band to earn almost any level of recognition these days wherever they’re based. For an underground extreme band from Singapore to make waves on an international level is almost unheard of. While Singapore has long had a diverse, supportive and thriving music community, it isn’t a scene associated with too many acts that break out from the underground.
But through working hard and working smart, Grindcore band Wormrot not only clawed their way to the top of their local scene, they’ve broken through the borders of the Southeast Asian island country – putting out records on renowned extreme music label Earache and traveling the world as one of the premier acts of the genre.
This is what makes Wormrot guitarist Rasyid Juraimi’s latest project such a revelation. Marrijannah absolutely excels in what it does, but the Doom and Stoner Rock churn is an altogether different beast from Wormrot’s onslaught and is stylistically entire worlds away from The Caufield Cult – the recently disbanded Post-Hardcore Punk Rock with ex-members who have also thrown their names into this new project, and the culmination of its efforts, ‘Till Marrijanah’.
‘1974’ begins the record with two fuzzed-out guitars grating against one-another. For fans of big riffs, big volume and fried amps it’s total distortion porn. There is a lot of noise but it’s not saturated to the point of Boris’ wrangling and corralling of feedback. The drums slam in around 45 seconds into the track and the band charges forward. The intro is reprised around the 4:15 mark, but rather than act simply as a callback to the opening moments, the riffs ascend, transitioning into the song’s crescendo.
With its crucial riffage kicking in right from the offset, ‘Snakecharmer’ is a fantastic choice for a lead single. While melodically, each part acts as a sinister foreshadowing to the following sections, the vocals are more subtle as they coo and slink their way throughout. Despite never easing off the fuzz pedals Marijannah still crafts some stellar dynamics while keeping all the instruments firing forward, peeling out one sharp and colourful riff after the other.
At a scratch over nine minutes ‘Bride of Mine’ is ‘Till Marrijanah’s’ longest track. It chugs forward throughout, but Marrijanah hits that sweet spot between a lurching tempo that gives the parts room to breathe and make the biggest impact, while at the same time never feeling like they’re forcing listeners to chain themselves to the music to fully absorb ideas and concepts. Sure, the riffs really sink in with repeated listens, but even with a nine-plus minute track it’s not an exercise in willpower to fully appreciate what’s happening. Lyrically, ‘Bride of Mine’ reads like a love song, but one that takes a suitably dark turn as the object of the writer’s affections is burned at the stake for witchcraft with vivid and poetic imagery being invoked throughout.
For much of ‘Till Marijannah’ the vocals are washed in reverb, soar above the sludge and are incredibly strong throughout. The distant tunefulness of the vocals, the duelling guitar leads, along with the grit of the recording gives Marijannah some classic rock vibes, but the ideas are interesting enough to stand alongside any work within the genre with a more contemporary take. The sounds are pushed into the red and pack enough heft for the calloused ears of modern metalheads.
The soulful singing on ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ on its own is enough to lift the tune to a fitting finale, but it’s further elevated by the backing vocals which add a choral majesty to the song. And while the build continues some two thirds throughout, it careens in an all new direction that just rocks. Here, the band has a tightness and precision that makes them all the more powerful, but it’s less like Mastodon’s clipped and polished exercises and more along the lines of Baroness’ thrilling movements on their ‘First’ ep from 2004. It’s a suitable conclusion – ending the song, and the entire record, on a high rather than dragging things out for the sake of balance.
There’s even more in the track to love on ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ for film fans, particularly those who are into cult horror movies and the work of John Carpenter, with lyrical references to Haddonfield, New Jersey – the town where 1978’s ‘Halloween’ is set. The “Laurie” in the opening line that “never wants to remember the very last day of that October” is Laurie Strode – Jamie Lee Curtis’ character in that classic piece of celluloid history.
Stoner Rock and Doom have been pulled in several directions throughout the years. While bands like Bell Witch have grabbed the formula by each end and stretched it to epic lengths, and Boris and The Body have infused their work with eclectic flourishes, it’s refreshing to know that bands like Marijannah can harken back to Classic Rock roots and create something compelling without leaving listeners feeling like they’re banging their head to some kind of retro act.
For fans of all that’s crushingly heavy there’s plenty to get lost in here. And with ‘Till Marijannah’ out on German psychedelic Stoner label Pink Tank Records let’s hope these monolithic jams land on anyone, anywhere looking to transcend.