MALLEUS “The Fires Of Heaven”
By Dr. Abner Mality
Here’s a record to stoke the flames of a traditional metalhead’s furnace! Pretty sure there’s more than one band called MALLEUS out there, but these guys hail from Boston, an old school town that seems fitting for old-school metal such as this. It is fairly easy to conjure up the names of old titans like HELLHAMMER, VENOM and BATHORY...much harder to sound like you actually come from the era when those giants were in their heyday. That is what MALLEUS has done here...first wave black metal worship of the highest order!
After the classical intro “The Tempest”, they rip right into the chainsaw mayhem of the first two BATHORY albums on “A Dark Sun Rises”. The riff is so close to those albums that I suspect the ghost of Quorthon will rise and haunt MALLEUS to the end of their days. But praise Satan, it still slays! If the whole album would have been in this mode, it would have been OK, but MALLEUS show they’ve got more up their sleeve with “Beyond The Pale”...what an epic darkened beatdown this one is, with FROST/HELLHAMMER riffs for days, mixed with The Channeler’s troll-like rasps. This is apex level headbanging...which continues with the merciless “Prophetess”, which leans more towards BATHORY and VENOM once more. A vicious brute of a song!
The title track shows a somewhat more nuanced side to the band, with more of a gallop instead of a full-bore blast as far as pacing goes. If the earlier songs were in the mode of the first two BATHORY albums, this is more along the lines of “Under The Sign of the Black Mark”. “Into The Flesh” pushes things back into the red zone with an unrestrained VENOM-ish thrasher. Then we have a bit of a slip, as “Awakening” is a long, meandering doom cut that I suspect is meant to be MALLEUS’ version of “Triumph of Death”. It’s agonizing, almost tribal doom with tortured shrieks...it does pick up substantially to reach a mighty climax. The album then ends with the most epic song, the almost 10 minute “Mourning War”, where the Viking era of BATHORY is given full worship...even the high pitched keyboards are reminiscent of that particular sound. It’s different from the rest of the album, but still heavy and driving.
From the above review, you could almost think this is a work of utter plagiarism, but it is not so. The influences are bald-faced, but somehow MALLEUS puts their own stamp on things. This is a masterful album that conjures up the smoke and stench of elder days.