I’m a sucker for some vicious, old-school, thrash and death metal. As an older dude, I was at ground zero for the rise of thrash and was on board with most of the bands that pushed thrash into a darker realm. Obviously Slayer come to mind, but contemporaries like Possessed, Sodom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, and Kreator were all on heavy rotation back then (and still are). So, when I saw a handful of the bands mentioned in describing Boston, Massachusetts Malleus, and their new album The Fires Of Heaven, in the promo pool my response was ‘yes please’.
Following opener, The Tempest, an instrumental featuring some somber, melancholic violin, the listener is instantly torn a new one by the rippin’ thrash intensity of A Dark Sun Rises. The track features an impeccable thrash tone, shredding leads and wicked chugging from guitarist The Hammer, as well as a merciless rhythm pummeling courtesy of drummer The Relentless and bassist The Watcher. Not to be out done, vocalist The Channeler offers up the required throat-rippin’ screams, and guttural barks that go hand in hand with this type of music.
Malleus, not content with just a high-velocity assault, switch up the tempo multiple times, on Beyond The Pale, beginning with a familiar pummeling, before dropping into a slower, mid-tempo crunch, accentuated by The Channeler’s myriad of grunts, and barks, as Malleus weave their way through a multi-faceted sonic attack throughout the track, displaying that they are far from a one trick pony underscoring the bands grasp on this material.
Prophetess has a killer, galloping and chugging main riff from The Hammer, who, again, I must mention my fondness for his tone and crunch, while The Watcher and The Relentless do their part in locking that charging rhythm section down. Elsewhere, on the title track, The Fires Of Heaven, Malleus, show they’re perfectly capable of delivering a traditional style metal epic, but shot through a blackened thrash vortex, where The Channeler manages to sound as vicious as anywhere on the album, The Hammer continues to unleash chugging riff after chugging riff at an almost dizzying velocity, while also flashing some well-timed, impactful lead work.
vicious, old-school, blackened thrash…
Into The Flesh meanwhile, reverts back to a more ruthless, blackened thrash attack, Malleus’ sequencing is uncanny, serving as the perfect, pummeling, face-ripper following the epic-ness of title track. Malleus put their sense of dynamics on display with the crawling, nasty, slow drip of Awakening. Conjuring up some of the unsettling, blood-curdling, heavy crawl usually reserved for bands like EyeHateGod, Malleus evoke some unsettling vibes, while The Channeler does his best early-era-Venom Cronos imitation, grunting, spitting, and growling throughout the entire eight-minute monstrosity. I felt the need to shower after this track, to wash the grime and muck off me.
Closer Mourning War is another killer blackened thrash take on a long-form, traditional metal epic, that serves as a final vehicle to take the listener through Malleus’ crushing abyss. The Channeler, whilst sticking to his script, shows flashes of a slightly more nuanced vocal attack throughout. Additionally, there’s hints of synth that complement the crunching, driving riffage, giving Mourning War a real sense of grandeur. The Hammer offers up some wicked, dare-I-say, melodic lead work, as Malleus weave their way through the epic nine-minute finale.
To say The Fires Of Heaven is an accomplished album would be an understatement. The musicianship and tone, as stated, are excellent. As well, there’s a bit of a lyrical theme running throughout with Malleus touching on the darker side of their Massachusetts locale. Sure, Malleus dropped some EP’s beforehand, but this is as accomplished of a debut for this kind of metal as I’ve heard in long time.
If I must find a gripe, there were times as I absorbed The Fires Of Heaven that The Channelers vocals grated on me some after repeated listens, but a microscopic complaint if I have to find some fault. Additionally, The Hammer throws down the gauntlet with not only world-class riffs, and chugging, his tone is impeccable, and his lead work, while understated, was delivered at impactful times. If one is in the mood for some vicious, old-school, blackened thrash, one could do a lot worse than The Fires Of Heaven.
Scribed by: Martin Williams