Malchus, are back with Dziedzictwo, an album filled even more instruments and complex arrangements than on past albums, while not losing touch with the melodic death metal they play so well.
Believe it or not, but Malchus trace their roots back to a 2006 punk rock demo, a long way from the folk-influenced melodic death metal where the band has come into their own. The band, whose home is Dębica, Poland, was started by guitarist/vocalist Radoslaw Solek and since the punk rock days, one can follow the evolution of the band’s melodic death metal sound from Didymos (2010) to the more folk-influenced Caput Mundi (2011), to the more polished Dom Zly (2014), which was further refined in Ur (2017) and now Dziedzictwo.
Similar to what I said in 2017….in full disclosure, Malchus previous album Ur was on my top 10 for 2017 and the title track for that album is one of my favorite songs, so needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this album for quite some time. Now that I’ve heard five albums by the band I can look back and see the maturing of the sound as the band has found their niche and grown in their songwriting and arrangements.
Production quality over the last three albums has been consistently strong with all of the instruments perfectly matched, which allows the traditional, folk instruments to work well within the melodic death metal background. Radoslaw Solek’s vocals have grown deeper and fuller and seem to be getting a bit grittier with each recording, often adding a good bit of texture to the songs. For those who haven’t experienced Malchus before, their songs often have the quitter, folk/traditional instruments woven into the songs, often in quieter sections and on Dziedzictwo the band brings a wider variety of other instruments into the mix.
Malchus waste no time in setting the melodic death metal tone for the album with “Przypadek” exploding into a driving rhythm with a heavy riff. The verse sections in the beginning feature nice layered guitar lines over Radoslaw’s shouted vocals and for a bit it seems as if the traditional instruments may not make an appearance, but then there is a section that brings an orchestral section into play followed by a complex arrangement with guitar and accordian in harmony with more playing another melody over the top. All of this then shifts back into full overdrive metal driven along by the pounding drum work by Tomasz Pyzia before closing out with an ending similar to the middle section of the song.
“Dolina” again has the fast guitar riffs and orchestral accents seen in the first track while the song overall is set to a slower pace at least in the beginning. As the song twists and turns, the slowness fades into a faster near thrash-like section setting up a guitar solo before going off at breakneck speed and coming to a near complete halt for another slower interlude. As if to set off in a different direction “Przedstrach” starts out with a mournful piano line eventually joined by a galloping drum beat and more over the top orchestral parts in a bouncy rhythm that fades into a somewhat chunky guitar riff only to revert back to the main rhythm and pace backed by keyboards. Trying to describe these songs in any way that makes sense becomes very difficult and the beauty is in the listening. The complex arrangements work very well and get better with every listen as your ears hear more and more subtle nuance from the variety of different instruments. Emotion carries through in the vocals and the band seems to make more use of shouted gang vocals on this album compared to previous ones.
Songs like “Rozopoznanie” with its dark powerful opening riff and the Korn-like groove will certainly surprise the new Malchus listener and shows the unpredictability of the band in terms of song construction. On a similar note, “Ciało i krew” starts out and stays melodic death metal throughout, until the very end which ends with some mournful female vocals. As if to add more new elements to their sound, “Jeden” brings in what reminds me of a Hammond organ from the Jon Lord Deep Purple era and the interplay between the guitar riffs and keyboard have a bit of the same feel although a bit heavier as you might imagine.
One of the videos the band chose to release is for “Dziedzictwo wojny” (Heritage of War) as a tribute for those who fought to defend their fatherland fighting for independence. The song itself highlights the strengths of the band from the heavy, driving riffs to the drums and other percussion elements that add complexity to the song. The other video out now is for the song “Niewinny” and is one of my favorites as it shows the band in the studio much like in the video for “Dom Zly” off that album. The accordion opening as the band is setting up for recording works really well with the song. As in “Dom Zly” the band while very serious and focused, just look to be having a great time playing the song and Radoslaw’s intensity on the vocals comes through when he’s in the scene. The song overall has a great rhythmic feel to it, largely because of Bartosz Tulik’s bass line, and I would have liked to see the other instruments in the video as well but as in all their songs the traditional instruments add a certain flair and complexity to the overall sound without being distracting. I dearly love the bouncy section with just accordion and drums and how that ends to be picked up by the full band coming in at full volume. Sheer brilliance.
I’ve been reviewing Malchus albums, happily I might add, since Caput Mundi (2011) and have seen the band’s sound change subtly and mature over time. Each album seems to keep the best parts from the previous one and bring in some new elements and Dziedzictwo is no exception. Kept in the sound are the traditional instruments and the great riffs, grooves, and melodic death metal we’ve come to expect but added to the mix is a bit more complexity in the arrangement and a different selection of traditional/folk/orchestral instruments. The one note I would add is that there is so much more in the arrangements on Dziedzictwo compared to the previous albums that it really does take more than one listen to fully appreciate how all the instruments contribute to the overall sound… luckily though the band learned before Dom Zly how to craft catchy songs so even that first listen is a good one.
Written by John Jackson
5. Dziedzictwo wojny
6. Ciało i krew
7. Dziedzictwo krwi
9. Nadzieja nie umiera
11. Dziedzictwo zwycięstwa
Radosław Sołek – Guitar, vocals
Rafał Ligęzka – Guitar
Bartosz Tulik – Bass
Tomasz “papirus” Pyzia – Drums
Release Date: Nov. 11th. 2019
Record Label: Independent
Video for ‘Niewinny’ (The Innocent):
Video for ‘Dziedzictwo wojny ‘ (Heritage of War)