Malthusian- MMXIII

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, October 17, 2015

Malthusian’s demo MMXIII generated quite a bit of buzz when it was released in 2013, but I somehow missed out on it. With this year’s Below the Hengiform EP, now seemed like a good time to dive into both efforts and see what this Irish death metal band had to offer. Comprised of members that have been in groups such as Mourning Beloveth, Abaddon Incarnate, and Altar of Plagues, they are hardly newcomers to the metal world and that is evident in the strength of the three songs on this demo. At its core, MMXIII has that dense, cavernous sound that a lot of death metal has gone for in recent years, but Malthusian adds even more unsettling riffing and terrifying vocals into the mix that makes their ideas stand out.

Though there may only be three songs on this release, they skew towards the longer side and come in at a little under twenty five minutes total which gives listeners plenty to dive into. Rather than jumping right into the cavernous, dense sound opener “Wraith///Plague Spore” starts off a bit slower with an ominous sounding melodic lead that twists and turns around the drum work. After about two and a half minutes, this sparser instrumentation gives way to the type of dense riffing that one might expect but that doesn’t mean that Malthusian immediately falls into predictable territory. Even when it starts to head into that cavernous sound, there’s still a very dynamic feel to the instrumentation and the crushing riffing often incorporates some eerier melodies that get under your skin. “The Mother’s Blade” is the best example of this, as it is the longest of the three tracks and blends regularly shifting tempos and hellish soundscapes into the crushing base. MMXIII may be considered a demo, but the production values are much better than what is typical for this release format as there’s quite a bit of clarity that makes it easy to pick out the nuances of each of the layers of sound. Malthusian falls somewhere between murkier death metal and the nightmarish soundscapes that bands like Portal have to offer, while providing songwriting that is strong enough to stand on its own.

Three of the four members contribute vocals throughout the course of the demo, which gives the performance a considerable amount of variation. While the primary style is a lower pitched growl that seems to just barely hover over the instrumentals and often becomes another layer of the dense, swirling sound, there are also higher screams and shrieks. The regular change from low to high pitches plays a significant role in Malthusian’s attack, and it allows them to maintain the maximum possible level of intensity without the growling or screaming becoming too repetitive. Once again “The Mother’s Blade” deserves a special mention, as towards the end of this song the screams become downright terrifying and it sounds like they’re going to burst out of your speakers and grab you right by the throat. This is an element that Malthusian has nailed perfectly on this demo, and hopefully they continue to utilize it on future recordings.

Demos are often used as a way for newer bands to release material as they are still feeling out ideas and are in more of a formative stage, but that is not the case here. Malthusian comes right out of the gate sounding like established veterans, and their murky, cavernous sound combined with twisting and turning dissonance will appeal to anyone that likes their death metal unrelenting and nightmarish. They leave themselves with plenty of room to branch out further and discover their own nuances within the genre, but for now MMXIII has more than enough substance to keep listeners coming back regularly.

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