Maul
Desecration and Enchantment EP (Cassette)

Let’s get something out of the way first: Fuck cassettes. I recall a conversation I had with a few metalheads slightly older than myself at a festival when one of the bands “only” had CDs and vinyl available as physical formats. Two young whippersnappers asked them if they had any cassettes, to which they replied; “Why would you want that?” I turned to the metalheads behind me and one of them said; “These kids don’t know the struggle.” Sure, I’m of the age where I have cassettes somewhere, but when I started buying music, CDs were “it.”

“What does this have to do with Maul,” you say. Firstly, don’t speak unless called upon. Secondly, Maul was a part of that festival. Thirdly, they are releasing a two-song cassette. Or 3 songs. Or 4. I’m unsure. I don’t yet own the cassette, but I know I have two songs to review, a third is not available digitally, and it shows 4 on the layout on Bandcamp. Alas, I can only review what I have heard. Let’s do both songs!

The first one is “The Sacred and the Profane/Hovering, Sinking.” What that means is that it’s 2 songs in one. Got it? Fuck. What I hear is a band progressing, yet still firing on all cylinders, and taking advantage of the hype. Garrett Alvarado’s vocals, which Erik referred to in his review of Seraphic Punishment as a blast furnace, are on full, spitting, aggressive display. The production is excellent, giving all instruments room to breathe, and forcing the heavy riffs and soloing straight up in your mouth hole. If I had to guess, the “second track” starts with the synths with a little over a minute left, which acts as an interlude more than a separate track.

However, they do fluidly move into “Disintegration of the Soul,” which is a slower, doomy number at nearly 9 minutes. Some vocals are borderline clean. Garrett is showing off his versatility with this slower material. However, I do want to point out it takes a turn around 3 minutes back into faster territory. I know it’s not going to make sense as a defining factor, but the way he ends phrases as if he’s spitting makes him a unique vocalist. This song also takes another turn into an atmospheric section before of course going back to bruising you.

If it wasn’t clear, I am a big fan of Maul, having seen them 3-4 times, and owning several merch items. It brings me joy to see them experimenting and branching out, not unlike Tomb Mold’s excellent album earlier this year, but not quite on that level. The sky is the limit for these dudes. I may just have to buy the cassette and get one of those converters to turn it into an mp3 file. I would bitch about it, but these guys are worth it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
December 1st, 2023

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