Malum may be a newer Finnish black metal band, having formed in 2013, but they’ve been one of the more active ones with new Satanic hymns coming almost every year through splits and EP’s in between full lengths. This year’s Legion is their third album and follows 2017’s Night of the Luciferian Light. Coming in at a more compact 38 minutes compared to its predecessors 47-minute run-time, Legion showcases Malum’s ability to strike with the type of scorching intensity and speed that makes Finnish black metal so appealing. It may not fall far from the established genre sound, but Legion is able to provide the type of majestic, commanding leads and violent riffing that continues to be incredibly appealing.
It may be due to the shorter length, but Legion feels a bit more fast paced and violent compared to Night of the Luciferian Light. While there are still quite a few moments where Malum slows things down to a slower tempo and lets the dark and sinister atmosphere take the spotlight, a considerable amount of the album emphasizes faster, violent riffing that delivers both the intensity of a raging fire and the chill of a cold winter. It’s familiar for sure and there are passages throughout that bring to mind the likes of Horna, Baptism, and Satanic Warmaster but these guys are able to deliver it in a way that has its own feel and the way that the riffs command your attention demonstrates Malum’s ability to stand out from the clones. There’s that perfect balance of jagged aggression and sweeping melodies, and as you get towards the second half the songwriting begins to showcase some of its coldest and entrancing melodic leads. While the sheer firepower of songs like “Sexual Demon” are enough to keep you coming back for more, I’ve found myself drawn to the majestic and otherworldly feel of the melodies on the last two songs “Luciferian Legion” and “Ajattoman viisauden loisteessa” on a regular basis.
Vocalist Tyrant has one of those higher pitched screams that cuts through the rest of the recording and grabs you by the throat from one verse to the next. This has been a trademark of Finnish black metal for some time and the performance here is up there with the best of them, as the intensity never wavers and gives the material a constant blast of intensity even when the instrumentals have softened their attack. While the pitch stays at around the same range for the majority of Legion it never becomes repetitive or grating, and some well-timed backing vocals during key moments help to break things up.
Legion streamlines down Malum’s ideas from before, cutting out any filler and delivering strong riffs from beginning to end. The second half’s incorporations of haunting melodies and the iciest leads possible stand out a bit more, but as a whole this is another stand-out release from this group. Finland knows black metal, and Malum is a name to familiarize yourself with. Legion is available from Purity Through Fire.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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