Even though I’m almost twenty one years old, I still love doing jigsaw puzzles—there’s just something about them which brings out the inner child in me. That isn’t where my fascination with puzzles ends, however. There is an undeniable sensation of catharsis which envelops me from the second I dump out all those hundreds (or thousands) of pieces onto the table to the last delicate prod which forces the puzzle’s completion. This newfound order—a decrease in entropy, so to speak—out of what seemed so disorganized perfectly described Reformation, the debut release by New York melodic hardcore band, Meridian. Meridian combine emotion, faith, and passion with rolling, beautiful instrumental soundscapes to create an immersive and in-depth atmosphere which stuns the listener with beauty before bludgeoning them with aggression.
Reformation starts with “Conscience,” a track which makes stunning highlights of the bands more immersive and detailed melodic aspects. The drums pulse and flow like rolling Midwest foothills, while the bass slides along with them, dotting the pastures with sections of patchy grass or sparse tree cover. Meanwhile, the guitars soar like a firm breeze, weaving through the soundscapes forged by the drums and guitars. Meridian use tones and riffs throughout the beginning of “Conscience,” as well as the conclusion to “Mother” and moments of “Father” which can be described only as natural. These segments serve, at first, to lull the listener into complacency and lower their guard. However, once their guard is down, Meridian use a diverse and subtle range of vocals reach out and grasp the listener’s heartstrings. Lyrics like those in the climax of “Father,” alongside the conclusion of “Mother” don’t stop there, however. They both croon and shout with such convincing fervor that the listener can feel the vocalist’s words echo within them, gripping at the wires of their heart and pulling in synchronized harmony.
When Meridian aren’t using stunning and scenic soundscapes to reach the listener’s heart, they’re cracking open the listener’s ribs with unexpected but superb heaviness. “Conscience” includes a hint at this—a sly chug or subtle crunch that hints that the band has much more to offer the listener than ethereal atmosphere and passing whim. This penchant for the bone-blistering breakdown doesn’t come to fruition until the middle of the album is well underway. Reformation risks destroying everything its stunningly harmonized atmosphere has been slaving away on with a series of tracks that feature stuttering, crunchy and hard-hitting breakdowns. “Hollow” especially is just that—a track which truly guts the listener and leaves them battered and without a core. However, rather than topple the tower of well-crafted and intricate musicianship Meridian have crafted, tracks such as “Misery” and “Hollow” –which feature a more punctual use of the band’s heavier elements—serve only to add a newfound level of cohesiveness to the band, providing them with a full-fledged dynamic.
It isn’t until the monster caged within “Misery” and the latter portions of Reformation is released that Meridian are proven as prodigally talented with the heavy-soft dynamic which has become a staple in the melodic hardcore scene. True—Meridian aren’t necessarily breaking new ground with Reformation, but, they are building a stellar structure on an already-established foundation. “Conscience” is an immersive and incredibly detailed track that serves as an indicative archetype for the tracks which follow. Every song Meridian hurl at the listener, to a degree, features aspects of beautiful, rolling and emotive scenery and earth-shattering, ground-quaking sections of heaviness. Whether a song is more melodic and emotionally inclined or relentless in its groove-infused attack on the listener depends entirely on where the listener is in their journey through the release. In this respect, while the pattern employed by Meridian might be somewhat predictable, each track holds a new take on that pattern to provide a surprising and engaging experience that doesn’t drag or get old.
Reformation is like a road trip with friends, or a challenging jigsaw puzzle—there is scenery, or smooth moments where everything fits, and there are times where you have to take the path less traveled—and feel forced to push and pull harder than you’d like. These represent the softer elements and the harder ones which detail them. Meridian master these two elements to create a solid, immersive and engaging release which might not redefine or create a genre, but will certainly strengthen it.
For Fans Of: Papertowns., Of Glaciers, Narrow Hearts, Liferuiner
By: Connor Welsh