Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Album Review: "Ritualis Aeterna" by Malacoda

From the very beginning horror and heavy metal have been intrinsically linked.  In 1969 a young band from Birmingham, England called "Earth" had taken up rehearsal space across the street from a cinema.  They noticed the longest lines at the cinema were reserved for the horror movies and decided infusing the genre into their already heavy rock might distinguish their sound.  They also decided to change the name of their band to match the name of the Boris Karloff feature which was attracting such attention at the cinema, "Black Sabbath".  Heavy metal was born.

I have never been interested in horror movies, especially not the gory or violent type.  Still, there is no question, when it comes time to create a soundtrack for the macabre, the mix of horror and rock produces some of the most entertaining and enjoyable music to ever reach my ears.
Many, and it might be fair to say most, metal bands have followed in this proud tradition to some degree.  A few bands completely embrace the sub-genre of horror metal.  The second album from Canadian power metal masters Malacoda has earned a mention among the heavyweights.  

Malacoda is named after a minor demon in Dante's "Divine Comedy", who is unique in that he is allowed a modicum of free will while in hell, and uses this freedom to harass other lost souls.  This concept is the thematic basis for much of the namesake band. Both musically and lyrically Malcoda explore the evil nature of the world.

The dark and brooding keyboards will remind listeners of the haunting tunes of King Diamond, the symphonic compositions and unbridled aggression are reminiscent of the mighty Dimmu Borgir, the vocal melodies and crunching riffs call to mind Iced Earth at their best.

The third track, "Pandemonium" is particularly powerful as it rampages forth with a thunderous opening riff.  Closing song "There Will Always Be One" is especially epic, an anthemic ode to despair.

The musicianship is supreme throughout.  

Vocalist Lucas Di Mascio seamlessly toggles between operatic deliveries and menacing growls.  Drummer Mike Harshaw provides a relentless beat which contains elements of both power metal and extreme metal. Guitarist Brad Casarin delivers a cavalcade of bombastic riffs.  Newest member, keyboardist Jonah Weingarten, provides atmospheric melodies and melancholy piano interludes.  Bassist Cooper Seldom holds it all together with pounding rhythms.  Jessy Oppenheimer and Joe Waller also contribute solos to the album.

A listen to Ritualis Aeterna is a sonic journey into the horrific with the demon Malacoda as your guide.

Release: December 2, 2016
Genre: Horror Metal / Power Metal
Label: Self Released

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