Reviewed by Melissa Minners
For the past twenty years, Nadjiwan has been a project of Marc Merilainen, a Canadian with a Native American and Finnish background. Born in Manitoba and raised in Northwestern Ontario, Merilainen knew he would be a musician from an early age. He graduated from the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College before returning to Thunder Bay, where he began collaborating with other First Nations musicians. I’ve been a fan of Marc Merilainen’s work for some time now and have enjoyed listening to projects he has worked on with Nadjiwan, as well as other bands, so when I heard that Nadjiwan was coming out with a new album called Tomahawk Rock, I couldn’t wait to check it out.
Marc Merilainen’s work has always been so interesting to me because of the way he mixes the sounds of rock and roll with that of his native heritage. The eight-track album, Tomahawk Rock, is no exception, featuring classic guitar riffs and synths mixed with flutes and Indigenous chants. The album begins with GT, which features some awesome guitar riffs and retro, 70s-style synths. The song is a commentary on how far a people will go for their beliefs: “How far must we go / In order to be free? / How low must we go / In order to be seen?” How far will one go to achieve the freedom they are seeking and to what lengths must they stoop to have others notice the atrocities being heaped upon them?
The title track, Tomahawk Rock, features some awesome guitar riffs, while Kick Ass features some heavy lyrics: “How long before we see / What we want is not what we need? / They say something lost will soon be seen / Tell that to your desire and your greed.” Another standout track is Social. Featuring some great guitar solos by Marc Merilainen and Jean-Paul De Roover, Social is a commentary on how important social media has become to our society…sometimes at the expense of what really matters. The Supreme is a poignant track with quietly spoken lyrics, flute performed by and heavy rock interludes. The song appears to be a commentary on the path of the Indigenous People of Canada with the lead singer at one point wondering if they have strayed too far from their original path.
Nadjiwan’s music just keeps getting better and better. The first time I listened to Tomahawk Rock, I just let the awesome mix of rocking guitar riffs and Native American music just wash over me. Then, I listened again, this time to the lyrics accompanying the awesome music, knowing that Marc Merilainen’s lyrics almost always have a social or political message to impart. Then, I listened to the album again for the full effect. Tomahawk Rock is just one of those albums I can listen to over and over again and never be disappointed. A great new album from Nadjiwan!
Tomahawk Rock will be available on August 4, 2018. Look for it at Amazon!