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Bloodred – Ad Astra Award winner

Ad Astra
by Gary Hernandez at 07 May 2022, 10:30 AM

BLOODRED is Ron Merz. I guess, it’s also a color of a crayon, but mostly it is Ron Merz. And Ron Merz is a talented multi-instrumentalist out of Oberstenfeld, Germany bent on creating music which will rot your soul in an exquisite way. He started his BLOODRED project in 2009 and has since produced one EP and three full-length albums. The latest, “Ad Astra,” was released by Massacre Records on April 22, 2022. It is 51 minutes and 38 seconds of extreme metal displaying the best qualities of Black and Death Metals.

Ron is again joined by Joris Nijenhuis (drums) on this latest album. Ron’s work on all guitars—bass, rhythm, lead—is top notch and evenly matched with his songwriting skills. On this album (nine tracks including one bonus), you will find epic overtones (think hints of choral hymns and flourishes of triumphant synths), melodic tremolo, crushing riffs fused with brutal basslines, and cruel vocals. And while there is always dissonance throughout the album, there are also dark harmonies. The compositions are thoughtful, with vicious assaults dropping into uneasy interludes and lyrics that are both insightful and raw.

My favorite aspects of the album come in a neat trifecta. I love the Blackened melodies. So many of the tremolos and solos are simply gorgeous (“Neon Gods”; “All is Bleak”; “Fire, Ash and Dust”). I love the Death sensibilities. Tracks like “Shatterer of Worlds,” “With Existence Comes Suffering,” “United/Divided” don’t let you forget that BLOODRED is rooted in, yes, blood. And I also love the almost Symphonic moments. These are the choral and synth accents which infuse the music with a Wagnerian classicism.

The album, of course, has its message. It’s reflected in the cover of a scorched (blackened) red earth; in the quotes (intermingled in the lyrics and dropped as a spoken word clip) from J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb; in the form and the function of the music; and in the lyrics, both blatant and sublime.

This is everything extreme metal is meant to be. Expertly executed, darkly insightful. Ron Merz has evolved his BLOODRED project to an apex here. He even ends the album on the title-track magnus opus, “Ad Astra” (trans: to the stars). It is almost as if to say, “We have arrived.” Highly recommended, this one. I’ll leave off by sharing a clutch of lyrics from the “Ad Astra” track. Ron intones these lines in Latin, German, and English—you know, just so there’s no misunderstanding.

“I measured the skies
Now the shadows I measure
Skybound was the mind
Earthbound the body rests
 . . .
From dust to the stars”

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Shatterer of Worlds
2. With Existence Comes Suffering
3. Neon Gods
4. All Is Bleak
5. United/Divided
6. Twilight Falls
7. Fire, Ash and Dust
8. Realm of Silence
9. Ad Astra
Ron Merz – Guitars, bass
Record Label: Massacre Records


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