It is hard not to overstate the importance of this release for Irish metal. Next to the decades of hard work put in by stalwarts Primordial and the feverish dabblings of black metal entities Slidhr, Myrkr and Rebirth of Nefast, Malthusian now occupy the role of Ireland’s answer to internationally recognised acts such as Mitochondrion and Antediluvian.
Malthusian’s molasses-like concoction of black, death and doom metal is accomplished and developed beyond the band’s years. As Ireland has yet to see the usual crop of Beherit and Blasphemy worshippers that proceed something as evolved and tight as Malthusian’s output, this EP is a brilliant and very welcome enigma in terms of a scene’s musical growth.
On ‘Below the Hengiform’ attention is initially drawn to the competency of drummer JK, who also lends his talents to Irish death/grind veterans Abaddon Incarnate and recently reunited post-black metal success story Altar of Plagues. Alongside sundry rhythmic patterns, serpentine guitar work and innovative vocal stylings add variety and layering to the consistently enthralling happenings. At points, chant-like throat-singing, performed by vocalist/bassist PG (also of Irish doom/death outfit Mourning Beloveth) adds a definite sense of the supernatural.
Within the release’s three offerings, there exists moments of genuinely chilling magic; nods to Morbid Angel’s often overlooked opus, ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’, are audible in the stop/start makeup of some sections, while the closing moments of “Slouching Equinox” are nothing short of death/doom mastery. Here is technicality in abundance, but void of the usual lethargy that can frequently curse such material. This quartet haven’t sacrificed the wall of sound, the brickwork is simply more skilled.
In essence, ‘Below…’ owes its satisfying bearing to varied pacing, assured musicianship and optimal production values, all of which demonstrate the band’s allegiance to their chosen genres, as well as a level of professionalism and prowess that enables Malthusian to nestle next to the aforementioned big names with ease.
Akin to all landmark releases, this one terminates all too soon. Often questioned on the movement toward the eventual presentation of a full-length, the band are in no rush, instead preferring to ensure that not a superfluous moment makes the final cut by refining their output via releases such as this.
Having shared stages with notables like Dead Congregation, Dødsengel and Altar of Plagues, to name but an illustrious few, Malthusian are a testament to passion and perseverance, and the current idols of Ireland’s burgeoning metal underground.