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‘God Is I’ (Regain)

Review by Jeff Maki
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I've seen the name Merauder in my many years as a metal fan, and I remember some hype surrounding their debut album, Master Killer (1996). But now, over a decade later, God Is I sets the new standard for hardcore-metal, past and present.

Imagine if fellow Brooklyn band Biohazard had retained the style from their landmark album, Urban Discipline, and evolved with that sound album after album—God Is I is what I imagine Biohazard sounding like today. Merauder at its core is a hardcore band. But with death metal growls, ripping guitar solos and heavy, in-your-face, Pantera-sized riffs, this is about as close to metal as hardcore can be. From the monster, chugging riff and lyrics of “Crush your enemies!” on the opening track, “Until,” it's evident this is a different breed of hardcore.

Vocalist Jorge Rosado alternates between a death metal and hardcore vocal and delivers one pissed-off, stand-down-to-nothing performance. His violent sound and varied styles can be compared to Brandan Schieppati of Bleeding Through. The mid-paced stomper “Built on Blood” has that classic Biohazard attitude, complete with the chorus gang vocal of the song's title. The appropriately titled “Gangsta” has one of the most badass guitar parts in recent memory and should get your adrenaline flowing uncontrollably. The lyrics seem to reflect the street code for Merauder. “Forgotten Children” borders on death metal, as Rosado growls the chorus backed by more ferocious gang chants. “God Is I,” “Hell Captive” and the Latin-flavored “Ahora”—reminding me of Sepultura—all follow suit, with punishing riffs and a powerful, relentless attack. You'll be out of breath and possibly knocked on your ass by the time this one stops spinning, yet you'll probably hit play again.

Rosado has been with the band since 1995 and he's assembled its current revamped lineup—a damn good one—after a long period of downtime. After God Is I, I proclaim Merauder is here to stay. Sure it's a lot of the usual hardcore lyrical content—standing your ground, fighting for your beliefs and survival on the streets—but Merauder's rough, gritty street sound and very metal style should appeal to any fan of heavy music.