For those who have been missing out on Malchus, the band’s home is Przeworsk, Poland and the band was started by Radoslaw Solek (guitars, vocals) over 11 years ago. Over the years, the band’s sound has evolved from the punk rock of their 2006 demo Memento Mori to the folk-influenced Caput Mundi to the progressive, melodic death metal where the band has come into their own over the course of the last two albums, Dom Zly (2014) and now Ur.
In full disclosure, Malchus previous album Dom Zly was on my top 10 for 2014 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 three 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. Production quality has evolved considerably as well since Caput Mundi and the sound now is fuller, deeper, more complex, and powerful. Radoslaw Solek’s vocals have grown deeper and fuller and convey much more emotion now than in the earlier recordings. This is especially evident in the song “Dom Zly” on the previous album and that carries through all of the songs on Ur as well. For the uninitiated, Malchus songs often have a complex interplay between the quiet and the loud and the band seamlessly weaves in sections that may be just a lone piano before bringing the full band back and this is done so in a way that makes sense to the listener, despite the obvious contrast in sounds. In fact, the majority of songs on Ur feature some variant of this song structure, but you tend not to notice unless you make note of it and revisit that later, which is a testament to how well the songs are crafted.
The album opens up with some traditional folk music that sounds Middle Eastern in nature and even after the driving riffs and drums begin there is a flute-like instrument providing a melody over the top of the guitars until the verse sections begin. The first thing I noticed was the increased complexity of the sound compared to Dom Zly. Not only the obvious folk elements but at different times there are also separate guitar parts and in the quieter keyboard section during “Krol”, there is a guitar backing that adds a nice element to the piano. Radosław Sołek maintains the vocal style he brought to Dom Zly and it works really well within the songs, conveying the emotion behind the songs.
Perhaps just to show they can write shorter songs, “Wzrastanie” is the next song on the album and one that does not feature a quieter interlude, so it’s melodic death metal from start to finish, fast and driving, the kind of music that literally compels your head to start nodding or even banging to the rhythm. The drum work by Thomas Pyzia is really showcased in this song as he provides the underlying speed to move the song. This song also highlights the quality production as during the instrumental sections, one can clearly pick out both guitar parts, the drums, and the bass line, so there is no “wall of sound” effect that so often happens in heavier music.
“Oblicze Milaczenia” and “Adventus” change up the formula a bit with a piano and slower, heavier riffs opening each song, respectively, and Solek’s vocals in “Oblicze Milaczenia” being a bit more strained than on other songs and nearing raggedness. However, these changes are still minor compared to what comes in the next two songs “Ur” and “Nie Do Wiary”. On “Ur”, which is the longest song on the album at near 7 minutes, the band adds additional layers to the already complex sound with the return of traditional folk-like instruments adding a new texture to the sound and a quieter piano outtro that features a choir chanting in solemn tone to close out the song. “Nie Do Wiary” opens up with some female vocals chanting out in a cadence that the band then incorporates into the main riff for the song. Her vocals return throughout the song with same phrase and cadence, making it almost like a chorus and each time signals a change in how the song progresses. Eventually, the band steps back to leave just the female vocals and then joins in to provide a heavy melodic riff backing to her vocals before stepping back again to have the song closed out by a mournful piano section.
More surprises come later in the album and really each song becomes almost a story unto itself. One of my favorite parts was the opening guitars in “Niepoprawny II”, which one can’t help but see a similarity to those in the song “Black Sabbath”. Eventually the band picks up the pace and that similarity fades out completely but incorporating that was a novel touch. Note: in the video the two parts of “Niepoprawny” are combined, so the section I refer to in “Niepoprawny II” begins at the 2:37 mark.
Having followed the band for a while now, I would count myself as an ardent supporter even though the vocals are in Polish. They are simply that good. Thankfully like they did with the Dom Zly video, the band has released an English lyric video for “Źródło Pustyni “ (Desert Wellspring). The closest descriptor I can think of would be that their overall sound is similar to that of Immortal Souls, when they are at their most melodic. Dom Zly helped establish Malchus in terms of melodic death metal and the band have taken the lessons learned there and expanded their overall sound into a complex mixture of elements that work together seamlessly.
Written by John Jackson
4. Oblicze Milaczenia
8. Nie Do Wiary
9. Niepoprawny I
10. Niepoprawny II
13. Zrodlo Pustyni (Desert Wellspring)
Radosław Sołek – Guitar, vocals
Paweł Tumiel – Guitar
Bartosz Tulik – Bass
Tomasz “papirus” Pyzia – Drums
Record Label: Independent, Oct. 2017
Video (audio) for ‘Zniewolony’
Lyric video in English for ‘Zrodlo Pustyni’ (Desert Wellspring)
Video (audio) for ‘Niepoprawny’