As Meridian are from Denmark I was going to begin this review of Breaking the Surface by helpfully pointing out that there aren’t any Danish rock bands to speak of. I then remembered Mercyful Fate and Volbeat so that scuppered that opening.
Anyway, this Danish outfit (of which there are obviously a few, plus, of course, Lars Ulrich) formed in 2005 and Breaking the Surface is their second album, out once again on Mighty Music.
Their modus operandi is clearly heavy – very heavy – melodic rock and they do a damned good job of it.
They combine the pace and power of Helloween with the melodic style of Linkin Park without the silly talky/rappy bits. They also bring it right up to date, reminiscent of Shinedown but with better solos.
Breaking the Surface begins with a 1’ 22” instrumental piece called “Rumours of War” which seems the thing to do at the moment but it does set the scene well and is a sign of things to come. Thumping drums courtesy of Klaus Agerbo and solid riffing by guitarists Martin J Andersen and Steffan Pedersen heighten expectations of the rest of the album. It must be noted, however, that Pedersen left Meridian during recording to be replaced by Marco Angioni.
Vocalist Lars Marker makes his first appearance on Track 2, “Hero Forever” and is most welcome. The power is certainly there but Lars can also hold a tune and is a pleasure to listen to. A bit of Metallica-type higher pitched riffing over a pounding drumbeat preludes the solo, all of which on the album are handled by Martin J Andersen. A very good start to the album proper.
Breaking the Surface continues with “Bricks To The Wall”, which is a touch drudgy and formulaic with an unremarkable solo but is fortunately followed up by the excellent “City of Holy War”.
“City of Holy War” has it all. Interesting story (about Jerusalem, surprisingly), atmosphere, depth, melody, pace and a stonking solo.
Meridian then channel their inner Shinedown on “Pure Celebration”. Lars Marker certainly extends himself here and you can feel the effort he puts in. He is very well supported in the rhythm department, driven by Agerbo and bassist Peter Bruun. Another accomplished solo from Martin J Andersen completes the job.
The next one up on Breaking the Surface is “The Bravest Face”, the highlight of which is Andersen’s guitar work. The solo starts slowly and smoothly only to build up to a glorious crescendo and the way the vocals emerge after is a thing of beauty. The song also ends with another solo. Top work there, guys!
The power and pace of the drumming is the stand out aspect of “Enigma Coding”, especially during the chorus. DragonForce would be proud of that. I must also compliment Peter Bruun, there’s cracking bass action going on in this song too.
All of a sudden we’ve come to the last track on Breaking the Surface by Meridian, but what a finish we have on our hands. “The Meaningless Wrong” starts with a slow beat over which Lars Marker lays some impassioned vocals. We build up to an enthusiastic verse and then we’re back down to contemplative mood. This is where Andersen once again kicks in. An emotionally charged solo is the best on the album and that is saying something. This song and “City of Holy War” are in a fight to decide the best song on the album. I might call it a tie.
This is a great album.
If you like old school metal, buy it.
If you like alternative metal, buy it.
Power metal? Buy it.
Heavy rock? You know what to do……..