MUSIC REVIEW: Malthusian – Below the Hengiform (2015)

Malthusian Band Photo

Band Name: Malthusian (Ireland)
Release Name: Below the Hengiform (EP)
Genre: Death / Black Metal

Below the Hengiform is the first E.P and second release from Irish super group Malthusian. With members from Mourning Beloveth, Altar of Plagues and Wreck of the Hesperus, the band have made quite a name for themselves already with their immersive live shows, including a support slot to Behemoth and, more recently, Mayhem. Their music can best be described as blackened death/doom with some psychedelic/hallucinogenic elements to give it an uneasy feeling.

‘The Gasless Billows’ opens with eerie ambient noises. The music starts at a slow pace, with rumbling guitars and some intricate drumming. It’s very entrancing, taking up all your focus, until a demonic growl comes in to pick things up. A chilling screech sets the music in motion, the drums turn into rapid blast beats with the guitars sounding evil and sinister. Blackened screams are layered together with the lower end death growls to create a chilling effect on the music. It all becomes a little psychedelic half way through; the guitars are fuzzy with a ringing harmony. The music is at its most extreme towards the end when it speeds up with maniacal blast beats and pure death metal riffs. The vocals unleash hell at this point sounding simply monstrous.

The music is more immediate with ‘Slouching Equinox’, with its franticly paced drumming and heavy death guitars. The shifts between all sorts of different moods and tempos ranging from a near grinding halt to high speed extreme death metal. The doom sections sound filthy, the lower gutturals keeping it low and heavy, and the faster blackened death sounding rotten. The death vocals are mixed slightly higher giving an excellent contrast to the higher screams.

Final track ‘Forms Become Vapour’ is probably the most immediate track to get your head around. Building it’s foundations from solid old school death metal, the music is more focused on the guitar riffs, resulting in a more memorable sound. The death vocals take charge while the drums blast away at a frantic speed. The track slows down towards the end, the mid-ranged gravely vocals taking it to a sinister conclusion.

The layering between the three vocalists is one of the standout elements of the band, each with their own style working together in unison. Special praise has to be given to drummer Johnny King, his technically and relentless style grasps your attention, never letting go. Compared to the MMXIII demo, the music on Below the Hengiform is much more challenging to listen to. It’s densely layered with many forces at work; it requires some repeated listens for it to unravel itself. It’s not something that will appeal to everyone but it shouldn’t be dismissed at first listen.

Malthusian - Below The Hengiform EP

1. The Gasless Billows
2. Slouching Equinox
3. Forms Become Vapour

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