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  MAELSTROM
'Sunlight'
(Contagion Records)
Out now


jools green

Jools Green



maelstrom

If your tastes lean more towards the melodic end of Black Metal and you have a hankering for something a little different then you can't go far wrong with 'Sunlight' the second full length, from Glasgow's Melodic Black Metal quintet Maelstrom following 2008's 'The Shores at Dawn'.

Sound wise it goes beyond a Melodic Black Metal sound. It's quite a progressive approach, combining symphonic elements and technical edged guitar work including very groovy bass work giving a modern innovative slant on the melodic end of Black Metal.

The tracks are well constructed and delivered and there is a superb mix of harsh vocals, vitriolic screams and hisses along with a deeper growl, powerfully delivered.

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There are also some cleans and although I am not a cleans fan at all, I could see, both their necessity and their merits and they did, to the greater part, grow on me with repeated listens. The nine track offering, spanning fifty-two minutes opens with 'Mourning ' a superb minute and a half atmosphere building instrumental intro, before ripping straight into 'Sunlight' where punchy technical edged riffs meet orchestration and vitriolic vocals.

The clean vocal harmonies are good here and balance well alongside the vitriolic hisses and screams.

'Liberate Me Ex Inferis ' has a sinister drop-away midway that builds in intensity on a scream, heralding the return of a the harsh vocals, followed by good symphonic repeat and hypnotic technical edged riffing and the first of the deeper vocals appearing towards the end.

'Midnight' opens on a stunning growl that is overlaid on a sinister symphonic repeat and pounding riff pattern which makes up the backbone as the track progresses. The growls and screams complement each other, midway the symphonic element comes more to the fore as the tempo elevates along with the bass, then the end of the track drops away to a haunting piano work - a stunning track.

There's a good balance of up tempo symphonics, technical edged riffs and blackened vocals across the first half of 'Widow'and the reflective midpoint drop away and cleans also work well.

The second half lyrics paint a harrowing image, none of which is lost when the cleans arrive, flowing neatly into 'Eye MMXIV' which really comes into its own in the second half with a great lead segment.

The first half 'Forever Lost' is heavily garnished with haunting symphonics and a good mix of vitriolic vocals and growling, taking a surprising direction change midway, another one of my favourites of the release.

On 'Dead of Night', just before midway the semi spoken harsh vocals are so well delivered they made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I am sure I spotted an Emerson, Lake and Palmer influence briefly, with the keyboards in the second half.

Maelstrom have saved their best till last with 'The Beating of His Hideous Heart ', up tempo with a great mix of higher vitriolic vocals and deep growls, once again giving an interesting dialogue feel.

This sits alongside symphonic bursts and catchy repeat riffs and I really like the cleans here which have a great harmonic aspect to them heralded by a blood curdling scream. Finally there is a mood and tempo change towards the close, for one that is slower, darker and slightly sinister.

There is no video available for 'Sunlight', which overall is a pretty exciting and engaging listen from a band with heaps of potential yet to be revealed, but for now you can listen to many of Maelstrom's tracks including some from this album at maelstromofficial.bandcamp.com/.

'Sunlight' is also available from high street outlets.



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