MERLIN is an interesting and yet unfortunate example of what can happen in an over saturated musical genre. While clearly competent musicians and even at times, interesting ones, there’s just something about “They Must Die” that doesn’t quite sit well.
If taken alone, “They Must Die” is a pretty good and entertaining CD. However, knowing a little something about the Death Metal scene, their influences become clear and at this stage, their influences did it better. The vocals also seem a tad bland and while a female vocalist fronting a Death Metal band would have peaked just about anyone’s interest in 1997, there are just so many out there now that the initial allure of the extreme female vocalist has worn off and simply being a female vocalist isn’t enough of a reason to get noticed anymore.
All is not lost though! Despite these complaints, there is a lot of good to be found. The tracks are typically interesting and they do have occasional memorable moments. They also keep things interesting by taking the PESTILENCE/MORBID ANGEL sound and making it a little bit more modern. They’ve infused a dose of heaviness, as well as some speed. Now here’s the interesting yet unfortunate part that I mentioned earlier. MERLIN has reached a plateau and with “They Must Die” they are on the verge of reaching the next one. Either MERLIN will explode into fits of originality coupled with the at times frenzied playing found on this release, or they’ll implode and drift off into obscurity.
Given the glimpses of potential found on this album, I’m willing to bet it’s the former. (Online July 5, 2004)