Saturday, December 22, 2012

Malleus Maleficarum

Malleus Maleficarum - Nothing Left to Fight For
Aura Mystique, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Introduction
2. Déliverance
3. Malleus Maleficarum
4. Les traces
5. Les Vestiges de mon amertum
6. Ecorchés
7. Le vice comme volonté...
8. ...La perversion comme représentation
9. Deviant
10. Nothing left to fight for

This is the third album from Malleus Maleficarum and at this point I'm pretty sure the project is no longer active. With this being their last effort I feel this project has sort of faded into the past. They never managed to quite make it to the legendary status in the Black Metal scene, but while Malleus Maleficarum put out some solid material, it never stood out that much in the crowd.

It's sort of a shame that this project stayed in relative obscurity and finished with this album because "Nothing Left to Fight For" was a pretty mature progression for their sound. The music was far deeper and more richly layered than their prior albums. Somehow they still managed to keep that raw Black Metal edge while increasing the quality of their production. The major change on this new album is the inclusion of some electronic elements from time to time, giving some aspects a more industrial bent. This is made clear with the intro, but also in the song "...La perversion comme représentation". Some listeners might feel this doesn't fit with Black Metal, but Malleus Maleficarum made it work pretty well for their material and it's not something that runs throughout the entire album. While the writing and presentation is far more mature and thought out, I personally probably prefer "Des Bibles..." a bit more at the end of the day. These are both excellent albums, but there's something a bit more primal about "Des Bibles..." that feels somewhat missing on this album. The feeling is still on this album a little bit, but it's just toned down a lot more in favor of deeper material.

It's sad to see the project end here, because these last two albums were very well done. So, if you've been a fan of the French interpretation of Black Metal and missed out on this project it's certainly worth checking out. Their earlier material wasn't anything special in my opinion, but these last two albums were very enjoyable and I definitely recommend given them a try. I don't have them in constant rotation in my collection, but I quite enjoy them when I bring them back out from time to time.

Malleus Maleficarum - Des Bibles, Des Hymnes, Des Icônes...
Oaken Shield, 2004

1. Des Bibles, Des Hymnes, Des Icônes...
2. La Chambre des Souillures
3. Neurasthenia
4. Souffre en Silence
5. Ignorance Enivrante
6. Interlude
7. La Cité des Hurlements Muets
8. Ballet Mortuaire
9. Espoir Perdu

This was actually my first experience with Malleus Maleficarum, I think I was buying random projects from France at the time. I had some other Oaken Shield releases and so, I decided to give this album a chance. I ended up really enjoying the album and I happen to have the limited edition digipak. It's limited to 999 hand-numbered copies and I own #574.  The layout is pretty simplistic, just a single panel and there is no booklet to go with the album.

"Taedium Vitae" still had a bit of that rough around the edges sound, although far better than what was on their demo material. This new album is an even further refinement. Not just in their overall sound, but also in their writing. I found the songs a lot more interesting and there were quite a few riffs that caught my ear and stood out. "Des bibles..." has an excellent atmosphere that sits somewhere between raw production and recorded well enough for us to hear everything. This is what I consider to be fairly solid Black Metal production. The songs use this to their advantage to create that intense and vicious atmosphere I usually want out of my Black Metal. While I enjoy the album as a whole, this isn't the type of project that leaves me fiending for more and more with each listen. "Des bibles..." is a great album to pull out from time to time and I certainly enjoy it, but it isn't really in constant rotation.

If you're going to give this band a try then I recommend you start with this album. It's quite enjoyable, though it may not be something you come back to often. At the time I'm writing this it's actually been quite a few years since I listened to this and it's been great revisiting this album. Unfortunately, it's not an album that will grasp or demand your attention track after track, instead it kind of fades into the background a bit, but with good Black Metal that's not always a band thing. I would consider this a worthwhile listen for someone looking for more Black Metal that has sort of exhausted the obvious and more readily available choices.

Malleus Maleficarum - Taedium Vitae
Oaken Shield, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Bleeding Runes
3. L'Hymne au Corbeau
4. Aesma Daeva
5. Lord of War
6. Ancient Blood
7. Desekrating Graves
8. Omen of the Moon
9. Outro

This is the follow up to the demo “Zarach’Baal’Tharagh”, granted it took two years, but it was well worth the wait.  I have not heard the first demo “Heic Noenum Pax” since it appears to be incredibly difficult to locate.  However, after hearing “Zarach’Baal’Tharagh,” I don’t know how good it can be.  It seems Malleus Maleficarum really started to pull their sound together with “Taedium Vitae.”  This album is much faster and much more intense than “Zarach’Baal’Tharagh” could ever hope to compete with in my opinion.  To be honest I found “Zarach’Baal’Tharagh” rather boring to listen to overall.  However, “Taedium Vitae,” being a much stronger album, is by no means anything overwhelmingly new in the realms of Black Metal.  I believe Malleus Maleficarum still has a decent amount of maturing to do as a band.  Their first demo came out in 1999 so they still have some time to generate their own unique aspect into a scene that is vastly becoming over saturated.  It seems, though, that in the twenty first century the French Black Metal scene has taken up arms to hold the scene and bolster a good amount of its growth.  I say this because it just feels that the scene is becoming somewhat stagnant in other countries, while places like Norway and so on are still producing high quality Black Metal albums, I don’t see too many overwhelming different approaches to the musical style.

“Taedium Vitae” albeit a great album, it is a general Black Metal release.  It’s fast, it’s brutal and it’s intense.  I have noticed in recent years with the newly formed Black Metal bands, is that they go through stages of mimicking the Old Norwegian scene and then usually finally branching off into their own domain.  I feel Blut Aus Nord is a classic case of this phenomenon.  They started off closely related to the Norwegian scene and then matured over the years and completely revolutionized their sound into something almost completely different from Black Metal, but still something that is like Black Metal.  Mütiilation is another prime example, though technically he started at around the same time the Norwegian scene started exploding.  Be that as it may, he was merely up to date with his Black Metal offerings of the time, but over the years Mütiilation grew into something wholly different and there really aren’t many Black Metal bands that inherently sound like that.  Malleus Maleficarum is hopefully no different from this evolutionary scale.  It is more like mastering the techniques set forth by the purveyors of the scene, then taking those skills and creating something entirely new with them.  It seems to be more of a learning process, rather than downright mimicking.  Granted in a lot of cases I’m sure copy-cat procedures are the goal, but for most bands I’ve noticed the trend of sounding similar to the older bands and then branching off into their own sound.  For example vocal wise I hear influence from Burzum era Black Metal in Malleus Maleficarum’s work.  I think that Malleus Maleficarum uses a better vocal approach, but then again I’m personally not a die hard Burzum fan.  Though, I think Burzum has offered a great deal to the Black Metal scene and will always remain a legend musically.

Please don’t let my theoretical/evolutionary musings sway you from picking up this album.  I highly recommend it; I enjoy Malleus Maleficarum quite a bit.  Even though they are not playing anything entirely new, I think they did a superb job on putting this album together and, dare I say, this honestly has more replay value for me than some other bands I listen to.  Malleus Maleficarum are on the right track and should absolutely be watched in the future.  The Black Metal found on “Taedium Vitae” is somewhat raw, but their production is good enough where you hear every instrument, but it just has the raw essence behind it.  Which, honestly, is the magical part of raw Black Metal and Malleus Maleficarum have managed to harness the essence with decent production backing it up.  So, overall this is a well produced album and if you are looking for something new to listen to or a band to watch in the future try out “Taedium Vitae.”  You may find a band to follow in the future.

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