PICK OF THE WEEK: Malleus blast societal hatred, fear that still haunts us with ‘Fires of Heaven’

So many people in our society are immersed in fear, even if they don’t know or acknowledge that fact. The negative reactions toward immigrants, queer people, trans people, people of color, etc. surely is the result of hatred, but much of that is based in fear. They’ll dress that hatred in bible pages and religious fervor, itself a source of fanning the flames of crippling fear.

I used the word fear numerous times above for a reason because it’s the most direct way to describe the hatred so many hold, and that is the driving subject matter behind “The Fires of Heaven,” the debut full-length from Boston-based black metal power Malleus. Over the course of eight tracks and 44 minutes, the band—vocalist The Channeler, guitarist The Hammer, bassist The Watcher, drummer The Relentless—focuses on European immigrants’ arrival in the New England area centuries ago and the unrest they faced, but those factors remain in place today in what’s long been celebrated as a melting pot society in America against which so many fight. Anger and bigotry grew out of that, bastardized religion having a major hand. The bloodshed in this country and the negative reverberations still present today are very real and harmful, no matter how much Florida’s reprehensible governor and plenty of other members of his party try to strip that from history.

“The Tempest” is an intro cut performed by Kris Force (Amber Asylum, Lux Interna, etc.) and Jackie Perez Gratz (Grayceon, Giant Squid, etc.) as they expertly carve a quivering path to destruction that arrives in full on “A Dark Sun Rises.” Riffs maul as the tempo goes wild, creaky shrieks working their way down your spine, the playing storming along. Speed jolts as the leads reign, thrashy power working to the finish. “Beyond the Pale” is mashing and explosive, the guitars chugging and the verses carrying a muddy ferocity. The playing is blistering as the shrieks mar, and a calculated pace makes the terror come at you ever harder, gutting with wild cries and intense savagery. “Prophetess” brings more fast-paced action and vocals scarring as darkness spreads, and the steam rising coats flesh. Guitars light up and cause you to shield your eyes , and then the drubbing tempo begins to pile bodies. Crazed howls tear into your psyche, the playing gallops, and the madness fades into darkness.

The title track runs 7:34 and crackles at the start, the menace building slowly but surely, vicious drubbing leveling up as the playing advances. Riffs darken as the temperature gets dangerously warm, speed rearing its head and strangling, shrieks tearing at your face. The final portion challenges and charges, increasing the pressure before ending in a molten blaze. “Into the Flesh” brings ripping riffs and devastation, the vocals spat like nails, the simple chorus carrying a punch to the guts. The track explodes and sends shrapnel flying, warm leads tangle with rumbling bass, and the final moments drive the daggers deep. “Awakening” is 8:02 and has an eerie start, taking its time to set up an ambiance. Growls mash as a dark, doomy path is trudged, the diatribes colored with playing that feels aimed at jarring loose dangerous ideals. The playing mangles from there, adding to the fury, and everything begins a slow descent, disappearing into synth fog and into 9:34-long closer “Mourning War” that changes the pace with lush acoustics. The guitars remain moody before the assault gets under way, the shrieks rampaging into synthy confusion and beastly rampaging. The verses plod as the power gains strength, the guitars give some added crunch, and then everything soars. The fires rage to a volatile level, the playing mauls thoroughly, and final blasts hammer in the final nails.

Centuries after the events that inspired the lyrical content on “The Fires of Heaven,” and we still act in similar fashion and force other people to face that fear and wrath. Malleus find a devastating, clobbering fashion to deliver these messages and revisit a history that doesn’t really come off as very flattering and still haunts marginalized people all over. It’s a war we never seem to be able to stop fighting, and at this point, it only feels like the battlefields are lengthening and getting bloodier.

For more on the band, go here: https://malleusheavymetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-fires-of-heaven

To buy the album, go here: https://armageddonlabel.bandcamp.com/album/the-fires-of-heaven

For more on the label, go here: http://www.armageddonshop.com/

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