Malphas
Portal

In Demonology, Malphas is a demonic grand president of hell and is second in command to Satan. He commands 40 legions of demons and he appears as a crow to any summoners. It’s also a melodic death metal band from Philadelphia that uses its demonic namesake as the basis for all its lyrics, songs, and album concepts.

Portal is the band’s second album and continues the story that started on the band’s debut, The 39th Spirit, focusing on an alternate dystopian world driven by demonic influence on politics and world finance.

With that thematic backdrop, Malphas plays modern melodic death/black metal with a strong orchestral backbone. The orchestration and choral arrangements are very well done with a strong cinematic  Dimmu Borgir/Septic Flesh/Rotting Christ dramatic element to the proceedings that back the song’s stories and themes well. However, the songs themselves are not quite as impressive.

Not that anything here is bad, it’s just even with the dramatic synths and storyline, only a few of the riffs or songs really hit despite a concerted, admirable effort from the entire band.  It’s not until the 6th song “Shadow and Blood on Jekyll Isle” that I actually dig a riff the band delivers and then “Pale Eyes to Snowy Skies” shortly after, provides a somber mid-paced change-up that’s solid. The 12-minute closer “Man, Raven, and the Portal”, finally delivers a killer song with an epic, story, and album endnote mainly due to the excellent orchestration and female vocals choirs.

Attempts to be a bit more menacing and urgent (“Leviathan’s Moonlit Sanctum”, “Atonement”) fall a bit flat.  And at times, the theatrics and character-driven vocals often remind me a bit of Ancient’s Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends. Not good.

I really wanted to like Portal more. In theory, it has everything I enjoy in a metal album, but the weak songwriting just holds it back, even with the top-notch orchestration and solid production.  Though the final track shows there is potential here. And it’s even more disappointing that it’s on a semi-large label responsible for releases I have really enjoyed like Hecate Enthroned, Black Royal, The Abscence and such.

Subsequently, this spring I’ll be listening to The Dark Horizon by Veriteras for my US-based symphonic, melodic death metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 2nd, 2024

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