Malrun – ‘Pandemonium’

By Fiachra Johnston

There’s a lot to get loud about these days. Whether you’re angry over the state of the world, or something more personal, there’s never been a better time to stick on something aggressive and deafening to offer a cathartic release. Somewhere between old school power metal, modern metalcore and prog, Danish five-piece Malrun lie in wait, providing you with exactly what you might be looking for. Soul-crushingly sinister, and suitably epic in scale and sound for a fourth album, ‘Pandemonium’ is a hellish 11 track crusade of some of Malrun’s most stylish work yet.

Up until the midway point, the Danes put their heaviest foot forward. Opening up with with the suitably introductory ‘King of Madness’, new vocalist Nicklas Sonne seems to earn his place almost instantly with some crisp and cutting screams, something ‘The Mask of Joy’ continues to highlight as they’re combined with speedy drumlines chunky prog guitars to great effect. ‘Anchored To Hell’, perhaps the most melodic in a slew of weighty tracks, feels like a violent revelry as the band continue the story of the aforementioned ‘King of Madness’: “Call me everything that made me feel sublime”. ‘Yellow’ adds a more folky feel as things slow down (but certainly do not let up), and it’s here you can best notice the very crisp mixing and production, every instrument getting its space against a wave of heavy vocals. It would be nice to hear more of those guitars, as they really make some of these tracks, such as ‘We Shall Prevail’, featuring some hardcore machine-gun fire bridges that make for one of the more unique sounds on the record.

Malrun speak a lot about their prog sound but they play around wonderfully in other styles.‘The Punishment’ has strong metalcore roots with glitchy lyrics and a breakneck pace (with some of the album’s best dirty vocals). ‘The Den Of Outrage’, the most classically “heavy” track of the record, has some growling raps that would make Corey Taylor blush, as does ‘Confinement’ (alongside the album’s most headbanging thrash guitar line). These tiny sprinklings of modern metal and rock styles are a nice addition to the powerful ’90s melodic choruses featured, though they may, however, diminish the overall heaviness of the album in the eyes of some, alongside the band favouring those more grandiose power medleys. If you’re a puritan you may find them a turn off, but for a band finding its footing with a new lineup, being able to stretch its legs and experiment will be nothing to balk at for most.

It hardly matters, though, as Malrun are very, VERY good at what they do. While boundary breaking it is not, ‘Pandemonium’ highlights the Danish outfit’s incredible technical, lyrical, and sonic skill within the genres they set their bloody stage upon. Prepare yourself for a bad case of whiplash: once you find yourself ensnared by Malrun’s aggresively enticing melodies and begin to headbang to their thunderous drumlines, you won’t have much reason to stop.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

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