Why even write a long, drawn-out intro here. Things are weird in Minneapolis right now. I feel like everyone is a bit on edge and it’s not going to end anytime soon so instead of getting bogged down by the weird vibes up here, why not dive into some new music like Merit Maker’s 2020 EP, ‘Quarantined’.
This quick EP kicks off with “Grudge Hold” and instantly gave me a boost of energy. It comes in all dramatic with slamming guitars and drums before more classic punk-sounding vocals take over. This quick and punchy track absolutely grabbed my attention and drew me in but I could already tell I was going to despise how short all of these tracks are. Even though this opening track is just two minutes long, I feel like the band puts in as much as they can. You got the more metal-infused intro followed by a more punk verse and then an almost weird pop-punk-drenched part. Really it’s all over the place and I loved everywhere this track went.
“From All Strife” instantly gave me huge The Offspring vibes from the vocals. This is a quick yet fun and punchy track. Although Merit Maker absolutely has a sound and style, it’s a unique one and, even at under two minutes long, I could hear various influences throughout this track. Sadly, the song just wasn’t long enough to list them all so you’ll have to listen for yourself!
The tempo slows just a hair for the intro to “Deviant Void” and brings a more militarized and anthemic vibe to the EP. Even when the track really hits its stride (at a warp speed that Merit Maker is clearly so comfortable doing), there’s something a bit more aggressive about this track. I like that, although a classic punk vibe, the band isn’t afraid to experiment. The most obvious experimentation in this track is the echo filter on the vocals at times. Although it’s a style that I would really only expect to hear in reggae music, somehow Merit Maker slips it into this track without making it super weird or anything.
“No Holds Barred” was an instant favorite of mine. The bass line reminded me of Rancid, the punchy vocals reminded me a bit of The Casualties while having an overall feeling that makes you want to get up and move. There’s almost a little hardcore feeling that creeps up in this one that was another reason this was a favorite of mine. Like I mentioned at the beginning, these tracks just are too short for my liking just because I feel like they are almost just teasing me and this track is a prime example of that. I wanted oh so much more of Merit Maker and this hidden hardcore vibe felt in “No Holds Barred” but we are already at the end of this quick EP.
“Shadow Banned” is the final track on this album and also the track that introduced me to this band. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed by the vocals at the beginning of this track and felt like they didn’t really match the rest of what was going on but, now that I hear the EP as a whole, it makes sense. This band is a bit all over the place stylistically and “Shadow Banned” is an example of that. Sure, this final track could use a little cleaning up but, overall, this entire EP is great. It’s quick so what do you have to lose? Check it out and see what you think of this band! I think we will be seeing a lot more of them and I can’t wait for a chance to catch them live!
My Favorite Track(s): “No Holds Barred”
For Fans Of: Quick and punchy tracks; Power; Punk things
Mosh-ability: 9 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie slept on the back of the couch; Autumn slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9.5 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 6.7 out of 10
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