Dripping from the tips of a thousand fingers that’d hang dead from this great looming pyre of meat is a smoking rain of rendered fat. That gristle-born sweat spills afire the dirt below thanks to the corpulence of the hundred affluent men who’d been crucified and set aflame by the hands of heretics with a collective mind for freedom and the horns of beasts. Many were fully crisped in the outer layers of this veritable ‘burning man’ of accounted for burning men but, the heart of the mass retains its pinkish color despite the suffocating death within the writhing mass of roasting flesh. Grant no clemency to the now medium-rare aristocratic thieves and their religious cronies for they conspire through generations as oppressors of man; Do what thou wilt and enjoy the free will existence had meaningfully granted you but know freedom will not come until the thought on Christ and all religion is no longer allowed to make sheep of those born as wolves. Burn first symbolism, burn second sanctuary, and third the very controllers of men and their swaying minds. Craft unincorporated ‘Legion’ of mankind towards a common goal with only one law to sustain the natural course of our human animal, to live without delusion and find purpose by our own will. Turku, Finland black metal band Malum seek to obliterate at a faster pace, to scorch and scourge the Earth of its foulest elite and replace them with an elite Finnish black metal force of their own. ‘Legion’ is a screaming flame-thrower descending upon a subzero night.
Malum began as an abrasive and relatively simple construct in 2013 from the mind of Tyrant who has since become fairly well known for his contributions to Kalmankantaja as their style shifted from depressive to a more serious atmospheric black metal project. Where I’d suggest taking note of Malum‘s discography is their split with Insane Vesper in 2017 prior to their stunning second full-length ‘Night of the Luciferian Light’ that same year. That point in their history would finally see the band fleshed out into a dead serious five piece and in creation of an incredibly seamless stream of semi-melodic black metal arrangements. You could trace many elements typical of elite Finnish black metal back to the still-beating heart of Satanic Warmaster but it feels somewhat reductive to not acknowledge the supreme importance of Sargeist and Horna in tandem. All three of these bands influence does appear to inform the general elevation of Malum beyond, the already impressive, ‘Night of the Luciferian Light’ that takes place throughout ‘Legion’. To break up the blurring, higher-sped force of their now slightly more oaken sound Malum have simply written the album differently rather than employ any new forces, in fact the same cover artist, producer/recording staff, and line-up were all employed for ‘Legion’. This provides a clear and righteous statement of both consistency and growth over time, saying without words that Malum are not only steadily improving but that their circle is well chosen.
The digital version of ‘Legion’ that was provided for review had the first two tracks “The Sun Devouring Dragon” and “Manifest Malum” fused into one nine and a half minute epic, as such I was largely unaware of this fusion during my first several listens. This should at least speak to the continued thread of through-flowing guitar work and composition that fans of ‘Night of the Luciferian Light’ should appreciate. As far as I know these are meant as separate songs but they fit beautifully together as an extended introductory act of Satanic black metal might. They are immediately indicative of the majority of the material on ‘Legion’ in the sense that those erogenous tremolo-driven guitar melodies are still the most powerful and memorable aspect of the experience Malum provides. The major change is the speed and intensity of their attack which helps tie those more melodically driven songs in with the return of more typically raw and aggressive Finnish black metal songs (see: “Sexual Demon”), this adds to both the Sargeist-esque feeling of the record and breaks away from the wall of melodious sound of the previous record. The majority of these tracks that stand out from prior compositions are from the ‘Terror Rehearsal’ tape released earlier this year, including the celestial reaches of “Luciferian Legion” which step the furthest outside of the established norms that Malum have brought thus far. This shock of nigh Burzum-esque rhythm, biting leads, and building chorales suggest more modern relevance than much of the locked-in Finnish melodic sorrow that otherwise dominates the feeling of the full listen. I appreciate that the mood of the experience is somewhat liquid and not wholly predictable.
“Blessed by the Devil’s Blood” was the first song that’d tipped the scales beyond an average Finnish black metal album for my tastes. It is a subtle tug at the soul, nothing as deeply rendering as olden Swedish guitar lines (Sorhin, Sacramentum, etc.), that eventually builds with repetition and pace until just past the five minute mark comes a rasp from the deep and a purposefully memorable apex. This may feel like a ‘classic’ moment if viewing the history of black metal through rose-colored lenses but it is in fact a very modern play of momentum and unexpected release with plenty of notes in the prior progression foreshadowing the eventual release. They could be even more bold with these moments but it all reigns back in as the moment gains variation towards the end of the song. “Ajattoman Viisauden Loisteessa” builds towards the same sort of dynamic release but with a less complex structure and faster pacing to begin with, making for a very strong-but-simple ending to this gracefully succinct 38 minute record. The first two tracks introduce this guitar language and provide meaningful examples of Malum‘s melodic voicing but it is “Manifest Malum” that feels most unique for its immediacy and slightly more complex movements. This all begins to bookend the raw and slightly more traditional pieces “Sexual Demon” and “Days of Slaughter and Destruction”, where I felt it was slightly awkward to place them so early in the tracklist until I’d considered a Side A and Side B arrangement where “Blessed by the Devil’s Blood” was the start of the second side. This was enough of a division where I felt it’d been smartly paced, though “Sexual Demon” is a bit early (and throwaway) compared to what else there was to choose from each side is equal in distribution.
Average as it may seem at first when faced with the great lineage of Finnish black metal behind it, ‘Legion’ is an immense and admirable third step in Malum‘s continued rise to notoriety among peers. Their strength now grows far beyond strong melodic sense and begins to include more traditional and newly exploratory influences making for a very balanced and entertaining full listen. I found no part of ‘Legion’ was a ‘hitch’ in the experience though “Luciferian Legion” was immediately somewhat bold enough to feel out of place for a spin or two. In or out of context with scene and compatriot it becomes clear that Malum‘s third album is not only above average but generally a memorable and repeatable experience so, it comes highly recommended.
Emme tunne armoa. 4.0/5.0
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