Beyond the Hengiform is Irish death metallers Malthusian’s second descent into the abyss, the follow up to the incredible 2013 release, Demo MMXIII. The twisting dissonant riffs and intense cavernous sound made it one of the best extreme metal releases put out in the decade thus far, so Malthusian had a lot to live up to with this second effort After honing their craft on tour over the last year and a half they’ve come back with a great follow up that pushes their sound into a different, but equally intriguing direction.
The aforementioned Demo MMXIII had an abyssal, cavernous sound, but still had a lot of hooks and melodies which would get stuck in your brain; while twisted and dissonant it was still memorable and accessible. For the first few listens of Beyond the Hengiform it’s a much more complex and less straightforward listen, and less memorable. It’s got less of a caustic wall of sound, but while less cavernous it’s more sprawling and adventurous. The guitar sound is a lot warmer but less dense, the riffs meander and twist their way around through strange avenues, they’re more complex and surreal but with with the interchange from one riff to the next being so intricately done it’s always engaging without the hooks. It has a very doomy feel to it throughout, the guitar and bass sound combining into a cauldron of bubbling sludge that threatens to boil over at any time.
But it’s not just the composition and performance of the twisted, inventive guitars that make it such an impressive release, the vocals and drums are also exemplary. They showcase. a great array of barks, shrieks, howls and screams across the EP, always sounding fearsome throughout, while the mix paced drums build on the creativity shown on the previous demo with a lot more flair in those ever punchy barrages.
Each track has it’s highlights whether the slower dirge towards the end of The Gasless Billows, the churning wall of guitar at the 6 minute mark of Slouching Equinox preceding the pained screeched vocals, or the way the guitar barrels forth at the start of Forms Become Vapour. But in truth it’s great from start to finish, it’s an EP that’s so meticulously crafted and unique that it demands full attention with every riff and tempo change – if you don’t just let it wash over you as background noise it’s right up there with anything released so far this year.
Interview with Malthusian about the release here.