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Maladie – Symptoms III Award winner

Symptoms III
by Paul LaPlaca at 15 November 2021, 6:30 AM

The third EP of the series, “Symptoms III” marks a departure from the metallic sounds of its predecessors with a remarkably crafted acoustic album, beautifully recorded and mastered. It brings to mind NICK CAVE, clean OPETH, PETER MURPHY, and dark folk. MALADIE hails from Ludwigshafen, Germany, and has named their unique style of music, “Plague Metal” but this EP is a haunting journey into depression and despair on the wings of acoustic guitar, piano, strings, saxophone, bass, and drums and that term really doesn’t describe the music here.

The first track, “Excidium – The Innocent Child” brings to mind FOREIGNER’S “Starrider” with a dusty acoustic guitar and dry drums supporting a whistled melody that could have come from a Spaghetti Western. It is delicate and heart-wrenching. Next up is the trance-like “Nihilum – The Shield Effect” with vocals ranging from whisper-quiet to a soaring, breaking crescendo full of pain and loss. The third track, “Tenebrae – No More Pain” is heavy on the melodrama with a spoken intro that makes me think of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, “Institutionalized” if singer MIKE MUIR was a Goth Kid cutting himself by candlelight in his mom’s basement.

With lyrics like, “All roads lead to eternal cold, out of this lie of warmth, this LIE OF LOVE!” delivered with such over-the-top conviction I am reminded of independent theater in NYC where the female lead always gets an extended monolog that ends in shrieking hysterics. For me, hearing someone express their most painful emotions in a song, completely unrestrained, makes me pull back, it doesn’t draw me in. The thing is, when music crosses into art, the trick is to elicit emotion and thought from the listener in subtle and unexpected ways. Just screaming about it isn’t good enough. Save it for the fucking therapist. Make me FEEL the way you do without being so ham-fisted about it.

They reign it in a bit on “Inanimentum – Last Farewell” with Déhà’s vocals ranging from a warm low tenor to a rough and gritty rock sound that at times has a bluesy feel. The EP closes with the orchestral instrumental, “Decretum – The Passage” which takes a repeated violin melody and weaves sax and string parts above and below it. “Symphonies III” is a remarkable sonic journey, it is an incredible recording with absolutely stellar production. The instrumentation and songwriting are brilliant and the deep melancholy should touch anybody who suffers from anxiety and depression, hopefully in a way that they don’t feel alone in their struggles.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Excidium – The Innocent Child
2. Nihilum – The Shield Effect
3. Tenebrae – No More Pain
4. Inanimentum – Last Farewell
5. Decretum – The Passage
Déhà  – Vocals
Hauke  –  Saxaphone
Björn Köppler – Guitars, Bass, Strings, Drums, Percussion
Record Label: Apostasy Records


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Edited 07 October 2022

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