Review: Malphas – ‘Occult Propaganda’

Swiss Black Metal quintet, Malphas originally began as a project of guitarist Raven, and was brought to fruition in 2014 with the addition of the other four members; Belaam covering vocals, Xzebeth on second guitar, Machete on drums along with Barbarian Whore covering bass duties and the name, appropriately refers to, in demonology, one of the Great Princes of Hell, who commands forty legions of demons, and is second in command under Satan, so the story goes.

‘Occult Propaganda’, their debut EP, is a three track offering spanning twenty-one minutes. They lean more towards more of a Norwegian sound, a little along the lines of early Darkthrone, very old school, bleak, dirty, intensely crushing at times, raw and atmospheric , dark and evil.

Opening track, ‘Malphas’ has a very darkly atmospheric extended intro, a haunting soundscape of distant wails, “demonic” reversed speech, and tolling bells that builds and becomes more and more sinister as it progresses. Two minutes in, the rapid classic black metal riffs and pummelling drums arrive , the vocals, largely indecipherable, but aesthetically atmospheric, a mix of vitriolic screams of varying octaves. The pace and direction of the track switches regularly to keep it interesting, with a dramatic blackened drop-way which makes room for a decent chunk of lead work just after midway.

The hypnotically rhythmic drums and opening riffs grab your attention on title track ‘Occult Propaganda’, the sound intensifying into a very dense, dirty, and, at times, crushing track as the vocals arrive. Well punctuated by ominous tempo drops and a memorable repeat.

Final track of the trio, ‘Awaking Excelsi Luciferi’, comes in even darker than the others , the vocals deeper and much more defined amidst the intense layers of riffing and relentlessly pummelling drums, with superbly fluid direction switching. As the longest track at just over nine minutes, there’s plenty of scope and room for dramatic plummets in tempo, where the drumming is further enhanced by swathes of crashing cymbals and higher riffing. Midway, there’s a reflective clean guitar segment, and haunting lead with whispered vocals, the lead continuing and developing as the pace quickens. A second drop, this time with sinister spoken lyrics builds up again to the close. unarguably the best track of the release, allowing you to fully see just what ‘Malphas’ are capable of.

‘Occult Propaganda’ gives an insight to the band, but obviously, a full album will give a bigger picture when it eventually comes to fruition, but it’s a good start. The EP is available from BMTC Records.

Review: Jools Green

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