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Malrun - Pandemonium

by Ian Yera at 14 November 2021, 6:21 PM

This is a band that comes to me without a ton of detail. It’s amazing what difference it makes in writing these reviews when a band has no Encyclopedia Metallum profile. MALRUN turns out to be a pretty straight forward Metalcore band (from Denmark fyi), relying strongly on the harsh/clean vox dichotomy, the quality of which these kinds of bands live and die on for me. Good news, the vocals are actually pretty good. The clean vox is surprisingly gritty and refined for a metalcore vocalist. Maybe I’ve just mostly listened to bad Metalcore, but generally (in America anyway) metalcore artists overproduce their music to the point of sterility, often depriving the music of individuality or personality. This album manages to walk that tightrope like a champ, the harsh vocalist can reach the deeper tones of melodic death metal vocals, and maybe he’s not perfect, but it works well enough for me. The clean vocals aren’t overly flattened and if I hear any auto-tune, it’s very minimal which let’s the vocalist’s gruff tone really come through, and gives the vocal melodies almost a prog/power sound. I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of metalcore adheres to a set of unwritten rules, and just by the clean vocals and the vocal melodies this band manages to create a more personal and interesting sound.

I was surprised by this albumI must admit, after the first couple songs I thought I knew exactly where this album was going, and I guess I was half right and half wrong. The hooks are very well written and while some of them blend together a bit, songs like Yellow manage to change things up with a development section, and a prec-horus that defies the formula followed by a lot of the album. Soft acoustic sections with a really well written build up to the last iteration of the chorus is something that does it for me every time. Most importantly the acoustic section is actually quite musically interesting. They don’t content themselves with a typical ballady section, instead the drum patterns get more intricate under these parts. The downside is that the bass isn’t really given very much to do which is really unfortunate because some funky bass slapping would go a long way with this music. The more I listen to this album the more I’m actually reminded of the last few PYRAMAZE albums. I don’t think I would say these guys are quite on that level, mostly because the hooks are very formulaic. I know I said they are good at writing hooks, and they are, but when like 7/10 songs on the album follow that same formula it gets boring. Not that PYRAMAZE is perfect in that regard either, but they definitely have more variety than this album. The real gold of this album is how the rhythm guitar really holds down the fort and is definitely one of the strongest parts of the music. They keep the riffs intricate and varied most of the time, and throw something a little bit different into each song which I like.

All in all, this is a good album, not a great one, but solid enough and the things holding it back are pretty obvious. Most of the time the band plays things very safe, some parts of the music does come across as overproduced and the harsh vox swings wildly in quality, or at least to me it does, bigger fans of Metalcore may have a different opinion. MALRUN have the musical chops to write something more ambitious than this and I hope they lean into their prog tendencies in the future. What really endeared me to this album though is that even in the songs I don’t care for (like “The Punishment”) there’s moments in the song that still jive with me and make it easier to get through the rest of the song. When it comes to genres with the “core” label attached to it, I have a tendency to judge prematurely and really it comes down to the narrative of: “because Metalcore is melodic death metal watered down for mainstream audiences”. I don’t entirely disagree with that assessment, but it’s also a very reductive argument. Any genre, no matter how mainstream it’s origins can produce musically relevant and technically brilliant gems. Does this album have a lot of the problems I associate with mainstream metal? Yes, but it does plenty of things really well that definitely out way the negatives.

Songwriting: 7/10
Musicianship: 8/10
Memorability: 6/10
Production: 7/10

3 Star Rating

1. King of Madness
2. The Mask of Joy
3. Trail of Ashes
4. Pandemonium
5. Yellow
6. Anchored to Hell
7. The Punishment
8. The Den of Outrage
9. Confinement
10. We Shall Prevail
11. Benders of the World
Mads Ingemann - guitar
Mikkel Johnsen - drums
Jacob Løbner - vocals
Patrick Nybroe - guitar
Ulrik Sølgaard - bass, vocals
Record Label: Prime Collective


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