Title: Our Hollow
Label: Sludgelord Records
Release Date: 25 October 2019
Format Reviewed: Digital Download
MALEVICH is damned creepy. If this was my 17-year-old self I would be terrified and baffled by these grimy, abrasive, sludge-merchants. But this is not 17 years old me, and my ears have become quite attuned to nasty, noisy metal that sounds like it’s being spat out of a rotting carcass in some wild, and menacingly dark forest … so, yay for creepy.
To see these young men down at the supermarket buying washing powder and toilet paper they may be very unassuming, but the unholy cacophony they create on this record, together with the extremely sinister artwork, makes the music seem more like the product of a rabid, wild beast then four slightly hairy young men from Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
From the outset of “Our Hollow”, it’s perfectly clear that this is going to be a harrowing journey, as “Earthen Womb” opens up with a furious, screaming blast-beat frenzy (after lulling us with an ominous atmospheric intro). I don’t know what exactly it is that I find so compelling about this music, but there’s something fascinating and very organic sounding about the way the band will rip through your flesh one minute, to then slow things down to a sludgy groove, before shifting again into a malevolently pounding, insistent, tribal sounding beat… and that’s just the first track.
Track titles like “Held By The Throat” give a sense of the landscape of terrifying violence being evoked here, like an animal in a steel trap, tied to a speeding train. This is certainly not music for the faint of heart. On a promotional page, the band describes their music as “grinding blackened angst”, which feels pretty apt, once you’ve soaked your ears in this world for a while. The band also lists their influences as “base materialism, the importance of collective action, breakdowns”… so all about the fun train!
“Fractured, Exultant” starts out with a great pounding rhythm, that while supremely heavy and menacing provides something of a sense of relief after the chaotic fury that’s been evoked before. Any sense the listener might have of a glimmer of calm, however is soon to be shattered by vocalist Connor Ray’s harrowing screams. Yeah, one way or another there really isn’t anywhere to hide once you open up the door to this record.
Elsewhere “Useless Talent, Promised Greatness” cunningly pairs up, spaced out, ominously dreamy sequences of resonating, echoing effects with horrifically brutal, remorseless, grindcore riffing. However, as is also the case throughout the album, there’s more to it than that. It’s hard to pin the music down as it shifts from one sequence to the next (witness, for example, the dark, spacey ambiance of “Distended Empire” where in the later stages the band let the listener drift along for a while on a kind of SLINT or SONIC YOUTH invoking cloud). This is why I say there’s something that feels very organic about this record and it also adds to the tension and sense of danger. You can never second guess where the music will go and it’s compelling, thrilling and anxiety inducing.
This kind of whirlwind, careering, grinding, sludgy, blackened, Death Metal is definitely not for everyone (even in the relative niche landscape of Underground Metal that we’re communicating within… ok it’s really just one way here, but feel free to send me some positive vibes maaaaaaan), but if you enjoy this kind of multifaceted, controlled chaos – the aural equivalent of being stuffed inside a washing machine and punted down a hill – this is a real gem of an album. The 34minutes run time might feel relatively brief, but for such a remorselessly brutal journey, it feels pretty well judged. Take a little breather, go make a cup of tea and then, by all means, get stuffed back into that washing machine again for another terrifying, tumbling descent. Please Sir, can I have some more? 9/10 Tom Boatman
9/10 Epic Storm
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