Malachi
Malachi

Halo of Flies Records are not particularly productive when it comes to releases, but when they do release something it usually gets my attention-for example Fall of Efrafa, Protestant and now Wisconsin’s Malachi and this release which consists of the bands previous two 2008 vinyl only releases (Malachi and Wither to Cover the Tread) on one 75 minute CD.

In a nutshell, if you took the brooding moments of Crisis (complete with banshee vocalist), the atmospheric, crumbling post rock ebb and flow of Neurosis and the graceful cellos of Grayceon you would get Malachi’s, gritty, caustic yet elegant take on sludgy, doomy metal.

Vocalist/cellist Betty Rettig looks to be a more virulent version of Grayceon’s Jackie Perez Gratz, providing languid cello work amid the more chaotic noise, its less used but used to excellent, draining effect when it does show (i.e. “Attended by Bloodshed”, “Ivory Walls”, “Desert Rift”, “Wither to Cover the Tread”) but vocally, she’s up there with other female screamers like Grace Perry, Laura Nichol Candace Kucsulain and their ilk. Guitarist Robert Collins also provides some gruff bellows to Rettig’s feral screams, adding to the band’s many layers and textures.

Musically, it’s almost instrumental (both vocalists are used fairly sparsely) with lengthy loping, lurching angular songs with long segments of ambience and atmospherics littered with spurts of discordance and heft, all scattered with some somber cello work. It all comes together to form a very tense, foreboding record that replaces most of post rock’s introspection and doom’s self pity with a more antagonistic, menacing self loathing. The thing is a good as the album is in its entirety and as an experience, and as much as I enjoyed tracks like “Worse than Creation”, doom drenched “Lifeless”, barren acoustic throes of “Desert Rift” and epic closer “Wither to Cover the Tread” and their melding of brittle noise and melancholy atmospherics, none of the tracks truly grabbed me or sucked me and connected with me emotionally like say last year’s excellent Samothrace debut. The start of “Ivory Walls” is about the only track that hit a nerve.

Still, a very good release that at times come across like Grayceon with PMS and Rabies, again showing that Halo of Flies have a good ear when it comes to quality not quantity.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
February 20th, 2009

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