Sunday, April 26, 2015
Malthusian - Below the Hengiform  (EP)
During the steady flow of the last 5-6 years we've accumulated more amorphous or 'cavern-core' death metal then we'd care to listen to: Antediluvian, Ulcerate, Mitochondrion, Impetuous Ritual, Teitanblood and Vassafor are just a handful of the many that come to mind, and Ireland's Malthusian has showed no reluctance in joining ranks with these bands and the ungodly, otherwordly death metal which they've effectively articulated. The band's debut EP and first offering after a rather highly regarded demo speaks in the exact language as the aforementioned giants, with an appeal to the extra-dimensional chaos of Lovecraftian horror and cavernous din espoused by the country of the maple leaf in particular. Make no mistake: Malthusian come (or rather trudge) with a murky expose that promises something far below the straits of 'catchy', 'melodic' or 'assonant', and ensures a permanent place near the bedrock of your iPod, spewing forth lava and bile.
''Below the Hengiform'' is at once cataclysmic and bloated with a disgusting synthesis of impenetrable death/doom motifs and wallowing vortexes of black metal airiness. The Irishmen deserve some credit for begetting the same kind of oozing, cantankerous death metal as some of the peers, but with a few flourishes and twists here and there to render things more unique. To be sure, 'cavernous' seems like a wonderful way to describe the coitus of tempestuous guitars, dowsed in reverb and the overall atmosphere they so successfully forge, but Malthusian gape through a certain level of almost oriental accessibility, with their looming chords balancing more towards an ''Onward to Golgotha'' rather than an ''Obscura'', though fascinatingly enough they employ enough technical skill a and variety in certain riffs to give the squamous slipperiness of the riffs some level of containment. Rather than piercing straight into the helpless soma of listener, the riffs spew a continual discharge of ichor and pustular extravagance, coating, slowly but gradually, as though with incandescent bones and limbs dipped in grime and pus; yet even then there's a level of tension to be suffered through the parade of some more dissonant riffing which Ulcerate or Gorguts fans would appreciate, even though the larger portion of the record is decidedly more loyal to the recipes of the masters of the early 90's than anything.
So this is 'old school', if that's your game, though for either party Malthusian pose unanimous annihilation. The quality of the production certainly works in their favor. Unlike in many records, the drums are clearly audible here, and not only that but they incorporate an abusive percussion through a wealth of cymbals and demented blast beats that suit the matchless chaos of the riffs well. The vocals are arguably the most distinct part of the Ep. As a contrast to the low-end riffing and spelean dive bombs, vocalists PG, AC, and MB (yes, they've got three guys going vox!) implement a mix of denser growls and utterly nightmarish shrieks redolent of Deicide, through at least twice as unnerving. Unfortunately, ''Below the Hengiform'' isn't as viscid to the ear as it is within itself. There are 2-3 riffs which I was utterly engrossed by, like the verse riff on ''Slouching Equinox'', but since the music engenders more artsy atmospheric than anything else, it's probably a safe assumption to say that none of the material here really stands out as mesmerizing, even at its sheer, apocalyptic best. With compositions as long as 9 minutes and just 3 tracks, you're bound to be in some shortage of dynamics, though thankfully the final (and shortest) track ''Forms Without Vapor'' is shattering and memorable enough to stave off the banalities of the other two tunes with its lurching, grooving riff patterns and linear, raspy black metal vocal lines. So like all the bands hailing under the black/death banner, but without providing as colorful a flavor as some others, Malthusian requires immensely concentrated consumption, followed by regurgitation. And then repeat.
Form Becomes Vapor