Record Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Västerbotten, famous for its unique variety of aged cheese, shivers in the northern climes of Sweden, bordering Lapland. The perfect home, then, for the frosty and furious Malakhim (angel, in Hebrew). This is the first full length from the Swedish five-piece, which boasts one of the more inventive, indecipherable logos within the genre.
Theion (Divine in Greek), released on Iron Bonehead Productions, is an occultist offering that falls in the Melodic Black Metal sub (sub) genre, though it’s melodic in a demented, rather than triumphant sense, squirming with delicate leads that lend a dystopian atmosphere courtesy of guitarist AN, also of melodic titans Naglfar. TK’s vocal performance is stunning and haunts as much as it blisters, with cathedral echo tempering the rasps. Another particularly pleasing feature is the snare sound – like drummer VT is punching a hole through humanity.
It opens with There is a Beacon, which is only enhanced if you pretend it’s called ‘There is Bacon.’ Japes aside, it’s a trudging, doomy expression that throbs with menace. Terrific stuff. Merciless Angel of Pestilence opens in a different vein, with punk energy and shuddering blasts, but it’s those maddening leads that once more set the tone. Other highpoints include Chalice of Ruin, with mischievous riffs that crumble into grinding misery, as well as His Voiceless Whisper, which offers despondent immersion, albeit with driving power and some jagged chord shifts.
But it’s the brutal Hammer of Satan that, for me, takes the coconut: squawking leads tease above deathy riffs, giving way to a searing chorus and a battering bridge so furious it should come with a health warning.
So far, the record has seen favourable reviews, despite several critics noting its lack of originality, and, indeed, the influence of contemporary big-hitters, not least Mgła, is unmistakable. That said, if every decent album obliterated the mold there’d be no such thing as genre. For a debut, it’s a powerful release that will smash away the lockdown blues. Michel Nolte deserves a special mention too for some simply gorgeous cover art.
Thumbs up from the Warlock.
Malakhim – Theion (Full Album)