Ferry Damen: Vocals / Guitar
Jos van den Brand: Guitar
Jeroen Pleunis: Bass
Marco Stubbe: Drums
In the year marking the 10th anniversary of their reunion, AntropomorphiA have delivered an extreme metal opus that more than maintains the high standards upheld over the course of their storied career. Further building on the monstrous sounds of 2017's Sermon Ov Wrath, Merciless Savagery lives up to its name, attacking with unrepentant ferocity and holding nothing back. "I want to hold on to the artistic freedom we've gained and be true to our sound without becoming repetitive, and that was the same going into making this record," states vocalist/guitarist Ferry Damen. "There always needs to be a progression but during the writing process I follow the path of inspiration, emotion and instinct, there's never a premeditated plan. The same goes for our new effort, on which I embraced my demons and reveled in darkness and shadows, and in doing so this entangled with the artistic output. Therefore, Merciless Savagery has taken on a darker form than it's predecessor."
With the savage title track opening the album, it grips from the first moment, the likes of "Apocalyptic Scourge" and "The Darkest Light" hostility incarnate, and while it is unmistakably the work of AntropomorphiA it is perhaps more intense than ever before. This intensity infuses the nine tracks, having nothing to do with tempo, which varies greatly, while the sheer sonic density of the music hammers down as if attempting to physically crush anyone who opens their ears to it. "Sermon Ov Wrath was our most raw and honest statement and an album where we transcended certain genre limitations, capturing the essence of AntropomorphiA, and I would say the new record's atmosphere is darker, heavier and more punishing, but still has hooky riffs and grooves. I think it's the logical step forward. It's a different chapter, even more diverse while being very cohesive but you can immediately hear it's AntropomorphiA. It feels familiar without becoming a replica of Sermon, and it's titled Merciless Savagery because I couldn't see another title other than that. It's perfectly adaptive to the music and production." The diversity on display serves the band well, and again building on the epic nature of its predecessor, Merciless Savagery wields tracks such as "Cathedral Ov Tombs", an often slower beast that lands with phenomenal force, and the more brooding "Wailing Chorus Ov The Damned". "I think our fans know what to expect from us, they know our sound and know that we are not that generic extreme metal band. We paint with a dark pallet but we paint with lots of shades of darkness." Lyrically, as with the record's two predecessors, Damen has moved away from gore themes and instead become more personal, but he chooses not to explain himself or that which he writes. "Although some lyrics might seem very direct and clear there are a lot of metaphors, and I don't really like to unfold my cards regarding these lyrics. There is free interpretation for the listener, and I don't like to take that away."
When it came time to lay down the tracks the band headed into the studio of drummer Marco Stubbe, having recorded everything there since 2012's Evangelivm Nekromantia. "It's become very familiar, we feel at home and are not on anyone's clock so we can take our time during recordings. Marco is also the producer, as he was on every album since our hiatus. We are the founders of this band and because we breathe AntropomorphiA he knows exactly how to translate the music to the right atmosphere/sound." Even having allowed themselves several months in which to record the album, time constraints were the most problematic aspect of the process, doing several months of preproduction and allowing the songs time to sink in and settle, which ate up more time than originally foreseen. Still, ultimately Damen describes the making of the record as "intense, stressful, tiring, disturbing but most of all inspiring, liberating and illuminating." The track "Luciferian Tempest" also features a guest appearance from Farida Lemouchi (The Devil's Blood, Molasses), bringing a different feel to the song. Prior to Sermon Ov Wrath, Damen never felt that AntropomorphiA's music called for female vocals, but this time around he had the specific intention to bring in someone to add this extra dimension. "During the creation of "Luciferian Tempest", a song that had many lives throughout the writing process, it started to gain a concrete form after several months and everything fell into place. I've known Farida for some years, and at the point I started to add some orchestration all I could hear was her voice and how that could break open the whole part and give it that epic ending the song needed. She was immediately interested, so after sending her the pre production demo a few weeks went by and we found ourselves sitting in the studio together. We discussed the track, its lyrics and our musical takes on it, and the result is what you hear on the album, which to me feels like a soundtrack to the end of all worthless life on this whoring planet."