“Merge is not just a band, it’s a business” is probably the biggest warning sign that I could ever be given before putting this disc in my stereo. I’ve proven time after time that individuals that feel that their act is a business usually spend too much of their time trying to work that angle and allowing their music to suffer as a result. This is what happened with Rawdialect, and Merge is still aurally satisfying but about as sincere as a Creed album. Even when Merge stumbles on something catchy and dare I say it – brilliant, such as in the increasing vocal tempo of “Inside Out”, they manage to screw it up (with a cluttering of the landscape with a needlessly distorted guitar). Each member of the band works at a completely different level of talent, and while there are numerous times on “This Could Be You” where the drumming seems stuttering or just completely off from the guitar lines laid down, Dustin’s vocals are a high spot in a disc that mires around in the muck of mediocrity.
While the level of production would be adequate for a number of popular rock bands, Merge’s presence on “This Could Be You” varies wildly, from an “Estranged”-spirited slower track “Patiently” in which Merge works together successfully to the depths of the aforementioned “Inside Out”. The one thing that Merge has going for it is that the band brings to the studio a myriad of different influences, some of which shine through fairly brightly on the disc. Korn comes out just as Creed, Puddle of Mudd and Ugly Kid Joe do, and I find myself trying to figure out exactly what band Merge is being fueled by instead of listening to the tracks for their own merit.
Even with Merge being propped up with some of the most lust recording I’ve heard from an independent act, a level of immaturity shines through that cannot be obscured, however much they try to obscure it. While it does seem like Merge isn’t your average totally-soulless, fame-seeking rock band due to a number of different charity gigs, there just needs to be some serious meditation on forging the band as more of a cohesive unit. If the band would come together, they would be serious contenders for spaces on the Clearchannel-led new rock radio stations that are present in every large market in the United States. However, a large amount of “This Could Be You” is disjointed and half-cooked, when the band is clearly capable of more.
Top Tracks: Patiently, Trauma(tized)
Rating : 4.6/10
Merge – This Could Be You / 2003 Self-Released / 14 Tracks / http://www.mergemix.com / Reviewed 09 August 2004