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Malstrom - Obligated By Obscurity

By: Eric Compton
Published: Saturday, July 24, 2004
Malstrom - Obligated By Obscurity 2004

1. Shatterer Of Worlds
2. Eleven
3. Expire
4. I Am Become Death
5. Into The Malstrom

Band Website

In May of 2003, I stumbled onto the very first Malstrom recording, a demo EP that rocked my socks off musically, but the vocals just fell short. In my review of the album I noted that the music was thrash with some new wave tendencies, with precise and skillful playing all around. My message in the review was simple; get rid of the vocalist. Now I have received a copy of Malstrom's newest material, and it is great to see that the band have indeed recruited a new vocalist, replacing Andrew Sidman with the band's second guitarist Jeff Jardine. This is a huge step in the right direction, and now the group are hitting their marks just fine with their new demo EP "Obligated By Obscurity".

Upon first listen of this release, moments of In Flames and Shadow's Fall spring to life. Malstrom focus all efforts on creating dark melodic thrash that recalls the greatest moments of new wave and the bay area sounds of the early 80s. With this new EP the band have really hit their stride, creating a wonderful blend of old and new, bringing to fruition a new thrash sensation that will hopefully be hitting the airwaves once the full length album is complete. The band have tweaked all of their weaknesses and worked hard to achieve this level of greatness. "Obligated By Obscurity" is truly a triumphant effort all around and it is a pleasure to see a band better themselves simply by realizing their strengths and weaknesses within. This is the Malstrom that I originally wanted to hear in 2003. Now a year later the group have managed to put themselves in the right place at the right time.

"Obligated By Obscurity" was recorded by Kurt Legee at Lucid Productions in Williamsburg Brooklyn during September of 2004. This is the first recording to feature Jeff Jardine on vocals, and I must say his voice is a welcome addition. Jardine uses the same harsh register as other modern thrash vocalists, with plenty of death like screams in his toolbox, but for the most part sticking with a hardcore sound throughout this EP. Musically this isn't a far cry from the band's effort a year ago, with the band delivering tight and precise thrash riffs with a bombastic bass and drum sound. The melody is still here, the fast chops are still evident, and the musical quality and talent is certainly here. The only main difference is the song writing pattern and Jardine's vocals, which again are the perfect fit for Malstrom.

Opener "Shatterer Of Worlds" recalls the best moments of Shadow's Fall, with a ton of chops and melody, and Jardine's harsh vocals that border on a clean presentation at times. I hear a little bit of Occult and Exodus elements here as well. "Eleven" follows in a more sludgy vein, bringing to mind Morbid Angel circa "Domination". The song eventually drifts into a more traditional pattern with a Maiden styled solo thrown in and some clean vocals from Jardine. "Expire" is a bit more chunky, recalling the bay area elements with plenty of speed and precision. "I Am Become Death" is probably the most progressive arrangement on the album, with some melodic strings and a more atmospheric approach. Swedish acts like Hypocrisy and Dissection pop up here before drifting into early Dark Tranquility. Closer "Into The Malstrom" showcases some acoustic moments before running full speed into a thick power metal feel.

This is easily the best work from the band thus far and a demo that will hopefully be shopped around quite a bit. With labels like Century Media and Nuclear Blast concentrating all efforts on finding these hardcore/thrash/Gothenburg styled bands, Malstrom should have a good shot at landing a deal. "Obligated By Obscurity" is a modern thrash effort that really outshines some of the biggest names on the scene. This isn't grind core, math core, math metal, or any of the other BS that seems to be rearing it's ugly head on our radio and TV screens these days. Fans of quality speed and thrash metal should look no further than Malstrom.

My prediction is that 2005 should be a big year for this band.


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