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Alkaloid - "The Malkuth Grimoire" (CD)

Alkaloid - "The Malkuth Grimoire" CD cover image

"The Malkuth Grimoire" track listing:

1. Carbon Phrases (9:31)
2. From a Hadron Machinist (9:18)
3. Cthulhu (5:46)
4. Alter Magnitudes (3:53)
5. Orgonism (8:32)
6. Dyson Sphere - I.Mining the Oorth Cloud (4:20)
7. Dyson Sphere - II.Assembly (3:05)
8. Dyson Sphere - III.Kardashev 2.1-The God Oven (3:33)
9. Dyson Sphere - IV.Sol Omega (4:00)
10. The Malkuth Grimoire (5:56)
11. C-Value Enigma (2:47)
12. Funeral For a Continent (12:20)

Reviewed by on March 27, 2015

"Frankly, the metal labels of the world should be ashamed of themselves for falling asleep at the wheel and allowing 'The Malkuth Grimoire' to be self-released... There's no question the album will land on the 'Top 10 of 2015' metal list."

The first truly surprising release of 2015, Alkaloid's debut album “The Malkuth Grimoire” creates a dark union between the technical and the progressive in entirely unexpected ways. If this album needs a sub-genre label, it should simply be called “dynamic death metal,” because these twelve tracks start with a base of everything that makes the various death metal styles work, but blasts them out in unique ways you aren't likely to hear anywhere else.

To give you an idea of what to expect, Alkaloid can be compared to a progressive extreme metal outfit like Enslaved (or perhaps long ago Opeth) colliding with an instrument-heavy and technical band like Blotted Science. In this case, however, tech metal gets a much-needed dose of the melodic along with a twist of Gothic atmosphere. It's still technical, but without the overbearing scale-playing that can really drag down your typical tech-death act (with the notable exception of the bass interlude track “C-Value Enigma,” which is exactly that, and perhaps purposefully so).

A vast sea of sounds flows back and forth across the disc from dark acoustic passages to jazzy guitar solos, but the band really knows when to shift gears and go much heavier and when to blend the opposing forces together. For icing on the cake, there's occasionally a touch of disturbing discordance along the lines of Dodecahedron or Deathspell Omega, like at the end of the title track.

“Cthulhu” slows everything down and goes into a odd mashup of bass groove and discordant, avant-garde black metal, while that middle to ending segment of “Alter Magnitudes” should absolutely be on a video game soundtrack. Things get more free form and bizarre with the four pack of “Dyson Sphere” tracks, adding in some Tesseract-style sound, but still keeping everything more on the extreme side.

Frankly, the metal labels of the world should be ashamed of themselves for falling asleep at the wheel and allowing “The Malkuth Grimoire” to be self-released. The album is unorthodox and constantly defies expectations, being solidly progressive but never letting go of the extreme sounds, and is quite varied but still all tied together musically and thematically. There's no question the album will land on the “Top 10 of 2015” metal list, and anyone into Obscura, Augury, Blotted Science, or Noneuclid should be grabbing this off Bandcamp immediately.

Highs: Prog and tech come together in completely unexpected ways.

Lows: The closing track is a bit on on the long side and meanders towards the end.

Bottom line: Alkaloid just knocked this debut out of the park - tech and prog fans alike will love this album that's constantly defying expectations.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)