Welcome back, everyone. I didn’t want to do two music posts in a row because I didn’t want you to think that’s the only topic I’ll be covering here, but I have gotten my hands on a new album a couple weeks before release, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you about it. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to introduce Nature Rejoices by The Biscuit Merchant:
The Biscuit Merchant is a solo project by Ohio native Justin Lawnchair, who lends his jaw-dropping guitar skills, vocal chops, and drums to this and his first album, Knucklewalker, which was released last spring. You can check out Knucklewalker on Spotify or buy it here.
The new album, Nature Rejoices, features eight new tracks:
- Starborn (1:28)
- Blame Society (4:46)
- God is in the Mountain (5:36)
- Incubus (7:41)
- Descent of the Pariahs (7:30)
- Greece Lightning (5:48)
- What You’ve Become (9:49)
- Nature Rejoices (10:23)
Overall, The Biscuit Merchant’s sophomore album is proggier compared to its predecessor, the songs feature more clean vocals as opposed to growling, and a lot of the lumbering, low-tuned guitar has been traded in for more dynamic thrash, prog metal, and even traditional heavy metal-style riffs. None of that is to say Nature Rejoices is any less hard-hitting than Knucklewalker, and as we go through the album today, you might find that despite its less brooding sound, The Biscuit Merchant’s latest effort may be the darkest one yet.
The album’s instrumental intro, Starborn, begins with a warm, strumming guitar, which belies the loud and fast-paced tone set by the rest of the tracks. Not twenty seconds into the track however, the drums come crashing in and away we go. The intro continues for about a minute more before transitioning into the first single, Blame Society, a song about – you guessed it – how much the modern world sucks.
Blame Society puts all of the album’s features on display in an almost thrash metal-esque setting. The production is crisp and there is a surprising amount of clean vocals – Justin channels James Hetfield at times. However, there is still plenty of growling, and on successive tracks, screaming vocals as well. Also, as I said before, the guitar work on this album, like on the one before it, is absolutely stunning. Other standout tracks in this regard include God is in the Mountain, Incubus, and especially the beginning of Descent of the Pariahs. However, tracks like Descent of the Pariahs and What You’ve Become are also most reminiscent of the sound featured on The Biscuit Merchant’s previous album.
Lyrically, Nature Rejoices is a deeply misanthropic album. You might say Nature Rejoices is a concept album about why humanity sucks. Blame Society starts off the human hate-fest, but you also have God is in the Mountain in which people can no longer talk to God because he is actively hiding from us (I just also wanted to mention Justin shows a great deal of vocal versatility on this album, but this is a real standout track in that regard). What You’ve Become sticks out as a particularly timely track, as The Biscuit Merchant’s contribution to the #MeToo movement.
Finally, Nature Rejoices, the titular coup de grace, imagines what would happen if humanity were to disappear from the face of the Earth, whether because we left or something happened to us. Simply, the song imagines, nature would rejoice – there would be no one left to spoil its majestic beauty, the wilds would regrow and animals once endangered would flourish again. Maybe, The Biscuit Merchant posits, the world really would be better without us. As if in answer to this musing, Nature Rejoices (the album and the song) bookends with a slower rendition of the warm guitar strumming from the intro track, Starborn. It’s a nice touch.
No album is perfect of course, and while the writing is tight overall – and I find it unfortunate to have to say this about the only instrumental track on the record other than the intro – Greece Lightning is kind of a weak track. The guitar work is great as with every other track, but that also means there isn’t much there to make it stand out. And it’s a shame too, because I love the name and I want so badly to love it. It may grow on me, but so far I find myself preferring Blame Society, God is in the Mountain, and Incubus over Greece Lightning.
I give Nature Rejoices by The Biscuit Merchant an 8.5 out of 10, as a solid follow-up album to a band with a lot of promise. And I’m saying all of this as someone who doesn’t even particularly like the heavier side of metal! The fact that I thoroughly enjoyed Nature Rejoices despite not generally being a fan of this genre (pretty much the only similar-sounding band I would even think of picking up is Opeth), I think, speaks volumes about how strong an album this is.
The album drops on February 20th, 2018, and you can buy the album on several digital outlets, including Bandcamp, iTunes, CDBaby, and more. And hey, musicians gotta eat too, so once you’ve previewed the album on Spotify in a couple weeks from now, buy the album (and maybe Knucklewalker too) and tell a few friends. Anyway, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. See you next week!
If you loved this album, if you hated it, if you’ve listened to Knucklewalker, share your thoughts in the comment section!