Alkaloid is an extreme progressive supergroup out of Germany. Featuring members of Necrophagist, Obscura, Spawn of Possession, Aborted, Dark Fortress, God Dethroned, Blotted Science and Noneuclid; it is no wonder the amount of press this album recieved despite being entirely funded, recorded, and released by the band. With that in mind, I have to open this review with an apology.
This was another album that came out in the busy month of March, and prior to developing the mission statement of this site. As such, I did not dedicate much time beyond previewing a few tracks, and the result was some some very slipshod, and ultimately not very accurate, negative comments about the album on Metal Storm. Hey, no matter how old we get, we still have growing up to do. That being said, I found it serendipidous that The Malkuth Grimoire should months later show up in my promo queue; as if that creepy, eyeless bastard was saying, "hey bruh...let's make up." Long story short, we did.
Let me get some of my remaining squabbles out of the way first. I am not a fan of the death vocals on this album. Something about it just feels off and lacks the strong presence of the other aspects of the music. It's not horrible; it just could use a bit more finesse. I was especially turned off by the croaky singing of "Orgonism," but hey, on an album that is roughly an hour and 15 minutes, one rough patach is a drop in the water. And fortunately, there is a bit of variety in the performances on this album. I really do enjoy the BTBAMish high cleans. "Carbon Phases" could have almost worked on Paralax. But one idea that really excited me listening to this music and the varied voices was the idea of Mike Patton singing on a project like this. I think even Morean might concede how epic that would be.
From here on out, it's all pros. There are some really killer riffs to be found all over this album. After getting a little touch and go on the "Dyson" (the vaccuum?) series, the title track absolutely blows your top off. Some nice Gothenburg hooks can also be found on "Alter Magnitudes," which is possibly my favorite track. And can I just say "C-Value Enigma?" This is like the extreme prog equivalent of Van Halen's "Eruption." Most impressive. The axe is not alone either. The deep, full tone of the bass does a lot more than just follow the melody. Check out the nice excerpt at the beginning of the closing track. Meanwhile the drums know how to compliment and sometimes carry the current aesthetic with everything from shifting, fiery snare and tom patterns to light cymbals and wood block.
So ultimately, I do really like The Malkuth Grimoire. From a purely musical standpoint, it is a unique-sounding record with a lot of impressive musicianship. The issues that I do have all fall into that enjoyjment factor. The vocals could be stronger, and the album as a whole could just be a bit more consistent in quality from start to finish. But what a solid debut and jumping point for an even better sophomore effort. And for a self-made outing, what great production! It feels very balanced with a strong element of dimension. There is good use of negative space, like each instrument is being played at a different position and depth. The Malkuth Grimoire is too polished to be called "live," but something about the mixing job still provides that image of musicians jamming this out together. Share your secrets with the world, please. In any case, the album is available on bandcamp and pretty much everywhere else. A digital copy is well worth your 10 Euro if you want the most profits to go to the band, but if your funds are low, I'm sure you could find a CD on Amazon or importcds.com for a bit cheaper.
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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