Videoclip of the Month!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Malevolentia - Ex Oblivion

Malevolentia - Ex Oblivion

Ex Oblivion is Malevolentia’s debut album which was released in 2011. Malevolentia is a symphonic black metal band hailing from Belfort France. When people think of symphonic black metal, they would first think about bands such as Dimmu Borgir. What if I told you that Dimmu Borgir were nothing compared to this band, and there is a band out there which takes everything to the next level. Although veterans of the genre might age, many would think that it’s impossible. Malevolentia is that band.

The first think that many symphonic black metal bands seem to do is make the orchestral side of their music stand out. The main reason why Dimmu Borgir’s 2010 release was so disappointing was because they chose to drown their music in symphonic elements in an attempt to hide its flaws. It’s like trying to deep fry chocolate covered brussels sprouts, the kids are never going to eat them. Malevolentia have done the right thing when it comes to the symphonic elements in their music. They haven’t gone overboard with them yet there is enough there to raise some emotion and add that extra little push to their music. That “little” push that orchestral elements in their music gave was the difference from a generic black metal sound to something new and original. Now I’m not saying that these guys are the newest most original thing or that they bring something new to the table. Because I don’t think this, but I do believe that they have given a previously bland genre of metal a little character. They have essentially “pimped” it out.

Who says you cannot have fast brutal black metal in symphonic black? Malevolentia, have just proven this theory wrong. This album is full of high paced brutality while keeping the emotional side stored away in the symphonic elements. I think the main thing that gives them their brutality is definitely the blast beats. The blast beats here will melt your face off, they aren’t afraid to drums a little bit of a beating (get it). I don’t know why, but the vocals and riffs also contribute to the extremeness of this album. The really high pitch shrieks during the fast parts really get the blood boiling sometimes, I also think it matches up with the symphonic elements that falsetto would. I hope the vocalist doesn’t get offened by this but I sometimes wonder if the vocalist is a male or a female. I don’t think any male black metal vocalist would be capable of having a voice as raspy as the ones here. Even the growls seem a little bit feminine at time because it still has that sharp pitch to them. But either way, I think it suits the pace of the music sometime.

Another feeling that cannot really be shaken off is the presence of folk metal influences. There is just something in the back of their music which gives the impression that this band is trying to add some folk elements to this album. This mainly comes from the guitar riff, because they sound just like a folk metal band would normally sound like. Even if the artists intention wasn’t to have this in their sound, I think that it was a nice little addition. It just adds that extra sense of scope to their music, although the majority of scope was already produced by the symphonic elements.

There are a few times throughout Ex Oblivion which sounded awfully depressing. The entire mood of the track changes in a single instant when these parts arrive. They do this by changing the vocals and adding instruments that would normally be associated with depression such as pianos and violins. I know for a fact that this album was not meant to be happy, not happy at all, so the extra little bit of depression helps the music along quite a bit. But depressive elements in black metal sort of standard issue, its just that Malevolentia uses it at the right moment in the right setting at the right time. They don’t simply say “oh yep, we’ve already been playing some brutality for a while now, lets make our listeners hang themselves” They seems to have planned where it goes before hand. The depressive parts remind me of the opening on Gris’s album l était une forêt..., except that Gris are much more experienced at creating depressive suicidal black meal.

Like I’ve mentioned before, there is evidence that Malevolentia have put a little planning in before they started writing songs. But having so many different elements in their music does have a its drawbacks and the most obvious one is trying to make a song structure  that makes sense. The majority of the structure in Ex Oblivion is quite messy. In fact, there are times where it’s just a pre mess. But luckily, that’s only “parts” of the album, not the whole thing. I think that main parts of their songs that suffer is their transitions. They aren’t smooth and they also leave a lot of holes, which is never good unless you are a technical death metal band like Viraemia. Its pretty damn safe to say that the main focus that Malevolentia had when writing this album is to shove as much atmosphere and emotion into people’s ears as humanly possible. There is not denying this because the evidence is all around this album. Its just those subtle things that they throw into their music aside from all the major elements which carries the emotion. The church bells, the whispering, the choir , it all impacts how much emotion is carried.

Overall I think that Malevolentia has shown the true potential of symphonic black metal. They have done this by not adding as much orchestral elements in their music which is basically the opposite of what many bands do. But yes, there are times where it the music is just pure orchestral and nothing else. These are probably the only bland times though out the album. Luckily enough, the real black metal out weights the symphonic elements by quite a fair amount, so it’s all good. France has quite a good modern black metal scene, everything from raw to DSBM. I think that Malevolentia is one of those bands that people need to keep an eye out for in the future because France is starting to produce some incredibly good black metal. I recommend this album to any black metal fan because these guys take snippets from almost all corners of black metal but it sounds nothing like a black metal hybrid. I recommend the track Martyrs because probably has the perfect symphonic to black metal ratio. Overall, I give Malevolentia’s Ex Oblivon a 17/20. Even though there are a few flaws throughout this album, there is also so much to look forward to.   

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