Review: Alkaloid – The Malkuth Grimoire

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In my experience, super groups tend to be a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s cool to see a handful of well-known and respected musicians collaborate on an album. On the other, they’re almost always a letdown. For example, let’s look at last year’s Killer Be Killed, composed of Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Max Cavalera (ex-Soufly, Cavalera Conspiracy), Dave Elitch (ex-The Mars Volta), and Greg Puciatio (The Dillinger Escape Plan). Though the record they put out was certainly listenable, it felt like the whole thing was phoned-in. These are all accomplished artists with impressive bodies of work, but nothing on their debut album was particularly noteworthy. The potential for something amazing was there; they just didn’t capitalize on it.

Fortunately, this is not the case with Alkaloid. Formed by tech-death veterans Hannes Grossmann (ex-Obscura), Christian Münzner (Spawn of Possession, ex-Obscura), Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Blotted Science), Danny Tunker (Aborted), and Morean (Noneuclid, Dark Fortress), Alkaloid are every bit worthy of the title “super group.” With a lineup like this, one could reasonably expect The Malkuth Grimoire to be built on hyper-shred and blastbeats. However, one would be wrong; it’s abundantly clear that Grossmann and company wouldn’t be content with resting on their laurels.

Alkaloid_Band_The_Malkuth_Grimoire (1)

Right off the bat, the band shatters any preconceptions of being a tech-death band in the traditional sense. Opening track “Carbon Phrases” is a spacey mid-tempo piece that sets the mood for the majority of the album. From the dissonant chords lurking beneath a menacing bass line and twinkling harmonic cascade on “Cthulhu” to the “Dyson Sphere” series’ swing theme that grows more menacing with each track, the whole album has a sinister otherworldly air about it. This alien atmosphere is accentuated by Morean’s vocal performance. Even during the album’s more traditional-sounding prog moments (“Orgonism” could almost be a lost BTBAM track), it’s his mixture of mid-range cleans, earthy growls, and deep throat singing that sets the band apart.

This isn’t to say that the band has eschewed all influence from their impressive pedigrees. “Alter Magnitudes” and the intro to “From a Hadron Machinist” are as technical as they come. The title track is a more traditional death metal number that wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on an Aborted or Noneuclid album, and the latter half of closer “The Death of a Continent” echoes Obscura’s slower moments (especially since Morean’s growl sounds strikingly similar to Steffen Kummerer). The musicianship at hand is still incredible and the compositions intelligent, but more so in a wise-man-on-the-mountain way than the mad scientist antics of their contemporaries. The sole exception to this is the instrumental track, “C-Value Enigma,” foregoing thoughtful structure and progression in favor of pondering what guitars would sound like when played faster than humanly possible. While it’s certainly weird enough to fit with the album as a whole, not to mention being a cool addition for guitarphiles like myself, I imagine those who don’t worship at the altar of extreme technicality will likely skip it entirely. As the shortest song on the album, you won’t be missing much if you decide to pass it by.

The Malkuth Grimoire is a dense, monolithic titan of progressive death metal. It clocks in around 74 minutes in length with only a couple tracks under five minutes long (the four-part “Dyson Sphere” is essentially a single long song with four distinct movements). Each song has tons of layers and rarely stays on one idea for long, but it is because of this that it is so enjoyable. Despite their length, the songs rarely feel like they’re dragging on. No riff is out of place, no melody too contrived, no transition forced. Each song is so colorful and organic that I could individually review each of them, but nobody needs a 12000-word explication of me masturbating to this album. Instead, I will leave you with this: if you’ve been looking for some progressive tech-death that isn’t overly self-indulgent, then this is your album.

NO FLUSH

“The Malkuth Grimoire” is out now and available for streaming/purchase at Alkaloid’s Bandcamp.

(Photos VIA, VIA)

  • The Beargod

    I really, really like this album. Dyson Sphere should have been an EP of it’s own though.

    • Spear

      It certainly could have been, but I don’t think it detracts from the overall experience by being there.

      • The Beargod

        It doesn’t but it is a very long record with material that really calls for attention throughout it’s length. Being so long and requiring quite a few listens (for many, I am sure) makes the whole album just very hard.

        Not complaining really though, I love the album.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I checked this shit out cause of the homey Jack Bauer. It was late the night I listened to it, like I was near delirious lol, but I thought this shit was pretty tight.

      • Dr. Dubz

        You listen to metal at weird times, bro.

        • Tyree

          He plays Primitive Man at business parties.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          I listened to that new Ad Nauseum album at like 6:30 in the morning on Sunday, lol

          • MoshOff

            SLEEPING IS FOR WINNERS, BRO

            *slams five Red Bull*

          • I listen to music at weird times too. I finally started to launch into Deathspell Omega’s discography on a drive at 4:30 in the morning. That shit plays with your mind.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Oh yeah! I like when you get the added effects. When I was working my second job last year I would drive home in these crazy thunder and lightning storms and it was a 40 minute drive and I would just jam out to metal albums.

          • As a power metal connoisseur, there’s not much better than blasting the most cheesy /epic power metal I own to and fro from classes on Friday. Sets a good vibe for the weekend.

        • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

          I dream about this band (Well mostly the singer) nearly every night, yes I know slightly creepy right?? The dreams are INCREDIBLY weird!! But awesome! (I blame it on my birth control!)

          -Posted by totness00, 2012-09-05 00:37

          • Gluteus_Maximus_Rage

            It must be both hilarious and, at the same time, soul staining to find these quotes.

        • Óðhinn
    • Óðhinn
  • Tyree
  • TheRedman(formerly God ov All)

    Love this album. Only complaint is some of the songs are too damn long. But blame that on my short attention span.

    • Guacamole Jim

      I almost finished reading your comment but then

      • TheRedman(formerly God ov All)

        Lol you smartass.

    • Vladimir Poutine

      But they’re so worth it. 6:30 on “Orgonism” is effing awesome when it rolls around.

  • I’m getting a Tool vibe from Carbon Phrases. It’s actually pretty cool.

    • MoshOff

      wtf Papa Joe likes a prog DM band? All I need now is for Molenaar to say he likes it too and that’ll be my cue to not leave the house tomorrow.

      • I only listened to it because the cover art wasn’t filled with purple scribbles and shit.

        • Also because Spear wrote such nice things.

          • MoshOff

            We believe you…

        • You will like this page: http://www.parolofsson.se/

          • MoshOff

            parolofssoncore!

          • Ughhhhhhhhh
            ATTN BANDS: I skip every promo that has Par Olofsson artwork.

          • He got some decent art. But, I can agree with you about repeating the patterns, colours and compositions.

            That also means you skip 60 % of current merol, jajajaja!

          • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

            I would probably love him as a video game concept artist or something, but his cover art is just boring at this point.

          • You’ve evolved to: Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3.

            I see his artwork that way too. He's very good making those venosa-core art with long forms. It would be awesome to play a sci-fi version on those landscapes. Something like Zangarmarsh but more epic and scifi.

      • LA BIBLIA DIJO QUE VIENEN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES Y EXTRAÑOS.

        APOCALYPSIS CONFIRMED.

    • Louis Quatorze

      You should listen to “Orgonism” from that said album. It totally got the Tool vibe for me. I think that “Carbon Phrases” was the one most unappealing to me. When first hearing it I was worried about the band and didn’t think the music could live up to the hype. That album totally proofed me wrong. I should have never question their skills since I relly enjoyd “The Radial Covenant” really much

      • Dr. Dubz

        Greetings. New here?

        • Louis Quatorze

          Hey, I’m kinda new to the comment section but I’m a loyal reader of this blog since its early days 😉

  • Album of the year so far (although not by much, as there’s already been a shit ton of great stuff released).

  • HessianHunter

    Shit yeaaahhhh. Ever since I got hooked on Sarpanitum I’ve been craving more weirdo-prog kinda-tech death.

    • MoshOff

      This thing here is weeeeeeeeeeird, a lot more than Sarpanitum.

  • Dr. Dubz

    Great review, Spear! I still haven’t heard this, but you’ve made me want to check it out.

    • Spear

      I’m just glad to have written something coherent. 90% of my writing process is drinking and staring at the screen until words happen.

    • Dagon

      I second this comment. This album is on my queue along the others I mean to check out. I’ll probably get to it around August, 2029.

      • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

        I listened to some of it multiple times, but I never finished it, mostly because it’s so fucking long.

        • Dagon

          It has to be phenomenal in order to justify this length. Like To Pimp A Butterfly, to me at least.

  • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))
  • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

    Why all great bands start with letter “A”?

    Avenged Sevenfold

    Atreyu

    A Day To Remember

    Because “A” stands for awesome!

    -kasiic911, 14 hours ago

    • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

      Archspire?

    • EsusMoose

      An*l C*nt

    • Óðhinn

      All That Remains

      As I Lay Dying

      August Burns Red

      Attila

      Asking Alexandria

      Attack Attack!

      ….wait, what am I doing?

  • I want to hear this. Thanks for this awesome review, Spear. You buyed me! 😀

  • i have used one before. i can completely understand why they wrote a few songs about it:
    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/418C5nqtkZL._SY355_.jpg

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Now that’s a fucking cool promo picture.

  • Mother Shabubu III

    Bill Nye metal or deGrasse-Tyson metal, or SpaceWankery? I can’t decide what specific sub-sub-genre to name this nerd metal.

  • Ted Nü-Djent ™

    Agree with review except I take umbrage at the KBK swipe. Jimmies rustled.