The perpetually dark world of death/thrash metal has long been a haven of the two extremes as has harbored the most, and least, talented riff stringers for well over three decades now. Yet few students ever come close to the adept cloister of ideas innovated by their hallowed thrash metal masters. To rip out complex throngs of thrash metal riffs at double (or triple) the speed is a young man’s game and few true standouts last more than a couple of albums before they either fall into redundancy or drop off the face of the Earth. Wave after wave they march towards this proverbial creative cliff and much to the delight of fans most of them burn bright with the spirit of 80’s Kreator and Coroner as they arrive at peak technical proficiency. Malmö based death thrashers Maligner aren’t tonally or structurally different than those legions pouring from Europe and South America every year but there is a feral strike of brilliance in their brutally delivered, moderately technical thrash metal attack. The trio’s debut full-length ‘Attraction to Annihilation’ so urgently delivers it’s half hour of thrashing mania that any fan of the death/thrash lexicon will be fully convinced well before it ends.
Formed in 2015 between South American expat and guitarist Aztiak (Patricio Vergara) (Remiso, ex-Mental Devastation), drummer Ertheb Somus-Ra and bassist/vocalist Maligno (Emanuel Bylund), Malinger offer an exciting balance of extremes that never ventures far from the conventions of brutal death/thrash metal style. My introduction to the band, their 2016 EP ‘Demon’, was particularly exciting for it’s Coroner influenced guitar work and raw barking vocal; A sound and attack that immediately brought to mind the best elements of bands like Entrench, Hypnosia, and Besieged. While it might seem reductive to place ‘Attraction to Annihilation’ beside ‘Extreme Hatred’ and ‘Violent Procreation’ it is actually a high honor as Maligner represent an equally vicious amplification of those traditions. Sounding like a 2x speed spin of Kreator‘s ‘Coma of Souls’ with hints of Merciless ‘The Treasures Within’ Maligner‘s blast of thrashing death couldn’t possibly be more violent without resorting to full on brutal death metal.
In making the jump from ‘Demon’ I can see the approach to riff craft has focused less on Coroner‘s earlier era of Possessed-esque neoclassically inspired runs and taken a small step away from ‘Extreme Aggression’ style riffs towards something more varied and less derivative. Yes, the guitar attack is still crunched out and bar-be-cuing the energy of ‘Terrible Certainty’ for lunch at high speed eighty percent of the time but that last fifth feels a bit like more recent Entrench and Rapture releases where late 80’s death metal begins to creep into their repertoire. One of my most celebrated ‘comfort zones’ in extreme metal is this tightly played, semi-technical marriage of classic thrash guitar work and late 80’s/early 90’s death metal tonality; That is to say I am a huge fan of any band that pulls off the difficult task of any sort of credible take on the style. We all sat through that horrible early 2000’s era where ex-melodic death metal bands tried to call bad groove metal ‘death thrash’ and came out appreciating the real thing even more.
When I was in my twenties I would jump into chatrooms or forums to specifically sit there and discuss and try to learn the best riffs from albums like ‘Attraction to Annihilation’ and beyond an appreciation for it’s sound and clean production my love for this record focuses largely on the guitar compositions and their brutal delivery. This is a percussive, crazed series of guitar riffs that will sate even the most jaded retro-thrash wieners out there on the internet. With that said only a few tracks amount to anything more memorable than your average performative riff showcases; “Disposable” offers a wild crossover between later Merciless‘ sound and ‘Coma of Souls’ era Kreator as it eases into it’s destruction and offers some awesome leads throughout, likewise “Beyond Repair” takes a detour into mid-paced riffing and comes up with a memorable groove that hints at some pre-90’s Sepultura and Pestilence styled guitar work. I’d recommend both tracks in an initial preview but with opener “Oath-Bound” and incredible closer “Into Oblivion” as the ‘stars’ of the show in terms of energy, riffs, and powerful grooves. Highly recommended to fans of old school death/thrash metal.
Fatal convulsions from the plague. 4.0/5.0
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