Merlin on the long road to releasing Christ Killer, out on vinyl this Saturday

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Kansas City quartet Merlin has been making music for several years now, but only just this year released its first full-length. That album, Christ Killer, came out digitally back in April, but thanks to pressing-plant back-ups, won’t be out on vinyl until this month, when it arrives via Poisoned Mind Records. It’s a massive piece of work, simultaneously encompassing stoner doom and spaghetti-Western scores.

For a band that was originally supposed to be a one-off deal for a Love Garden in-store, Merlin has enjoyed an impressive rise. I called up the band after practice one evening to get the inside scoop on its upcoming release.

The Pitch: You guys were shooting a video tonight?

Jordan Knorr (vocals): Yeah, we just got done shooting a video for an upcoming song. We have a new album coming out in 2016 that we’re going to announce here in November. We’re waiting on this Christ Killer vinyl to announce all the details.

It seems like it’s taken a really long time for this vinyl to come out.

JK: All right, so, thing about that is that we got contacted last July by this guy Tom [RedRum] at Poisoned Mind Records. I guess he heard about us through his friend Steve STB, who runs STB Records. Steve got hold of one of our lathe cut singles of “Execution,” off Christ Killer. We did a really small run of those lathe-cut 7-inches through Woody Records, which is this guy, Ben Hughes [the Mr. & the Mrs.]. He used to play bass for us for a bit.

Tom started his label because he likes old horror movie soundtracks and he likes that stoner doom genre. Tom was really, really into Christ Killer, so he wanted to sign us, which we did. He’d told us that Christ Killer would come out late spring of this year, and that didn’t happen.

%{[ data-embed-type=”image” data-embed-id=”” data-embed-element=”aside” ]}%Carter Lewis (guitar and synths): It was caused by Record Store Day backing up the very few record pressing plants that there are. So, it got pushed back because we’re a lower-rung and lesser-known-about band.

Christ Killer seems to just have story after story behind its creation, beyond the wait for a physical release.

JK: Christ Killer, when we created it, it was based off this old Gladiator II script Nick Cave wrote. When we wrote the album, it was kind of based off that screenplay, and we wanted to make it more of a soundtrack album.

Joey Hamm (bass): Only if we could get Ridley Scott to direct it.

Having just read the synopsis of that script in The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See, combined with listening to the album, I can see how that worked out.

JK: When we started writing this album, we wanted to base it on the actual screenplay as much as we could, but we started getting this whole spaghetti western vibe, so we wanted to change it up a little bit to fit the style we were going for. That’s why there are a lot of themes that have that Ennio Morricone kind of vibe.

Where does that vibe come from?

CL: I really got into Django Unchained in the winter of 2014, and I could not stop listening to that soundtrack. That’s where it all came from. I just really wanted to create something that was in the same vein as Quentin Tarantino.

I like the fact that the album has a narrative, but still works even without following said narrative.

JH: I can’t even fuckin’ follow it. [everyone laughs]

JK: The thing is, even though it’s based off of this screenplay – and maybe it is a concept album – we really don’t want to limit [Christ Killer] to that. We want to have, like, a crazy Western psych doom album. The whole idea was that this guy, when he dies in the first song, “Execution,” then he goes into hell in the next song [“Deal With the Devil”]. We wanted to get increasingly weirder and crazier with each song. So, even if you didn’t understand the story in the album, it kinda spoke with the music.

“Execution” is a pretty easy, heavy-hitting Clutch-like kind of song, but when we start getting into “Deal With the Devil,” we start getting more experimental, then we get “Lucifer’s Revenge,” which is very experimental. I mean, it’s crazy: we got this eight-minute psych jam that comes out of nowhere and we liked it that way, because even if you don’t understand the story, you kind of got the vibe from the music that was getting increasingly crazier, you know?

CL: It’s not like a Coheed & Cambria album, where it’s all like, “In the year 2525,” and these details.

JK: We didn’t want to make it a concept album and just limit it to that. We wanted to make a really cool album that fit this Christ Killer / Gladiator II story and do it in our own way, while keeping a lot of the original [storyline] in this album.
Merlin’s Christ Killer goes on sale this Saturday, October 17, via Poisoned Mind Records’ webstore. The band plays an album release show for the LP at the Riot Room the following Saturday, October 26, opening for Spirit Caravan. For that show, they’ll be performing Christ Killer in its entirety. You can find details for that show here.

Categories: Music