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Malthusian | ‘Below The Hengiform’


It awakes – breathes a tarry, rancid breath somewhere in the depths. Stirs, discontent, then slouches like the rough beast waiting to be born.

Those are the opening sounds, captured from the very belly of Tiamat, on this feverishly anticipated new release from Ireland’s Malthusian.

Feverishly anticipated, indeed? For once, yes. Their debut simply was not enough. For Malthusian took us both by surprise and by storm with that debut of winter 2013.

It was an almost sublime distillation of all the ugliest, most occult and punishing metal vortices into a brief few songs. It had a very real black magic about it.

Sickening Foul Breath

I love bands that succeed in turning ideas and images into music that sounds like them. ‘The Gasless Billows’ is just this – a deeply, deeply ugly and slouching track that takes its time opening this new EP.

As it goes between languid, catarrhy lumbering and frenetic blast beats one is immediately reminded of the best of Incantation, round about ‘Onward To Golgotha’ – that mix of death metal so underground it’s at the earth’s molten core and the ugliest and most irreligious sludge.

It’s a track that manages to have a sickening, foul breath about it, with all the many many vocal styles groaning and howling above it.

By the time it builds into its speedier sections, ‘Slouching Equinox’ reminds of Immolation from their most extreme ‘Close To A World Below’ album. That’s a comparatively mainstream influence where this band is concerned, and there’s probably more of Manifesting and their like about the majority of the track.

When it ramps up the speed it is absolutely punishing; when it crawls its disfigured and horrific.

An Attack Of The Vapours

Another superbly named track (these things matter!), ‘Forms Become Vapour’ is yet again a quintessence of underground ugliness and aggression.

The fantastic, dark production comes into its own here, with Johnny’s drumming echoing around the walls of the Mines Of Moria when he thumps the toms late into the track.

Again, Immolation are recalled, from around the ‘Failures’-era here, albeit cloaked somewhat. It’s another absolutely flattening track that puts the darkness back into Death Metal, returning its obscurantist and murky origins to it.

Lovecraftian Horror

There are couple of essential reasons you need to understand as to why Malthusian are actually an important band making important music, and not just flavour of the week here because they’re Irish.

The main thing is their turning of concept into music. Everything, and I mean everything in this is aligned. The concept, the words, the music and the art are all seamlessly evoking the same idea. That is a joy to take it, because one supports the other. You can practically smell this music, they convey it so well.

Secondly is of course the musicianship itself. It is not technical in the shrink-wrapped, clickety modern sense, and yet it is no less extremely able.

No surprises when you’re anchored down by the drum talents previously lent to the likes of Altar of Plagues and Abaddon Incarnate by Johnny. And then the riffs: everything Andy was trying to do in Wreck Of The Hesperus finds its logical development in here.

It is timely to mention Altar Of Plagues. Because although this may be premature, and perhaps a slight hostage to fortune, I see Mathusian doing for Death Metal what Altar Of Plagues did for Black – guiding it, if not forcing it, into a new place in a really meaningful way.

We’re quite a way off that yet. But with the momentum the band have at this time, coupled with touring and the inevitable critical acclaim this release alone will earn, I see no reason why not.

This high-concept, brutal and impressive musical evokation of a fevered nightmare deserves it. It’s like the sound of Shub-Niggurath awakening, angrily.

4.3/5 – Earl Grey ::: 25/03/15


16 Comments
  1. I am really looking forward to giving this a proper listen, the album name is weird though, I cant think of henges as evil! the artwork is almost convincing me though.

  2. Can’t wait to hear the EP in full! This band are incredible, for me the best and most promising band from the past few years, not just from Ireland but worldwide as far as I know of, they give hope for the future of extreme and intelligent dark metal.

    To me it seems Progressive but not in the like gay Dream Theater way but progressive as in the kind of music you would want to hear from a new black/death/extreme/watever metal band of 2015 being innovative and trying to take things to the next level…and they are succeeding! A full length debut whenever it happens I think will blow the metal scene up and possibly bring about the end and filth of humanity!

    Awesomeness.

  3. Padre Pio Says:

    Definitely looking forward to getting this.

  4. ollkiller Says:

    Heard it a few weeks ago, it’s savage. Perfect death doom with other bits mixed in. Favourite is the last track, outro is killer.

  5. Great review… really looking forward to picking this up!

  6. resonant paddy Says:

    Didn’t know johnny king was drumming for em! Legend and a half. Sounds savage, very raw and uncompromising. Would like to give the whole thing a good Listn.

  7. Best of luck with this release lads. Really looking forward to taking it in with a complete listen & of course, a physical vinyl release.

  8. The thing I really like about Malthusian is that the writing, performance, and production of the music is that good I really enjoy the stank dirtiness and flat out darkness of their music, Malthusian draw me into this genre I would otherwise circumnavigate, looking forward to hearing the full release and lamming back chalices of red wine.

  9. Looking forward to this.

    It’s indicative of an odd habit with Irish metal; bands seem to appear and are far more developed than they truly should be within their genre (and within Ireland). Malthusian are definitely a more polished, technical entity within the black/death/doom-y milieu – and yet Ireland hasn’t experienced the primal, murky, noisy variants of that genre mix, as of yet. Malthusian have, seemingly, skipped a few steps, which is not definitely not a bad thing and is testament to their collective ability.

    Similarly, AoP represented a post-variant of black metal before we ever really experienced the slew of Darkthrone clones. With the likes of Slidhr and Rebirth of Nefast operating, it’s unlikely now that Ireland will ever go through that phase.

  10. wizardinblack Says:

    “The thing I really like about Malthusian is that the writing, performance, and production of the music is that good I really enjoy the stank dirtiness and flat out darkness of their music, Malthusian draw me into this genre I would otherwise circumnavigate, looking forward to hearing the full release and lamming back chalices of red wine.”
    This was me btw.

  11. CD available for pre order now at http://www.invictusproductions.net/shop. Out Friday April 17th.

  12. Badger Badger Badger Says:

    Will this be available for retail anywhere?

  13. Eoin McLove Says:

    Either from Invictus Productions or direct from the band. It will no doubt hit a load of distros too, so it will be easy to find.

  14. Currently working out getting it into Tower Records for sale as well, which should be sorted by next week (when it’s out).

    Plastic Head is my distributor so I’ve sent them the relevant info for it and hopefully they’ll take copies.

  15. Badger Badger Badger Says:

    Excellent. Thanks, lookin forward to it.

  16. Unsurprising to hear death metal as evil and stellar as this coming out of Ireland being that the world’s two most renowned representatives of that style (Immolation and Incantation) feature members of Irish descent (John McEntee and Ross Dolan).

    I’ve often wondered how it is that those with Irish blood in their veins could create such profane and deliciously vile music. Perhaps Catholic oppression has a bit to do with it, eh?

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