Type: CD Company: Independent Release: 2015 Genre: Heavy/Extreme Reviewer: T. Ray Verteramo Published: 2/18/2015
This work is not sewn, it's woven
You knew it was going to be audible, at the very least. The second they announced this insane supergroup of musical whores, (I prefer the term "shameless hussies"), who have been plugged, unplugged, and still plug some of the most brilliant and beloved Death, Black, Prog, Extreme, and all points in between, Metal acts that you knew this Alkaloid thing was something to pay attention to. This is why their independent crowdfunding campaign raised 159% of their goal within 60 days. You knew when you heard the sneak peek tracks, "Carbon Phases," "C-Value Enigma," and the skullcruncher, "Cthulu," that this had potential to even be better than what you expected.
What you may not know is no matter how high our expectations may have been, we underestimated them.
"The Malkuth Grimoire," to those who have a clue of the Quabbalah, instantly advertises the intention to explore the extraordinary in the ordinary -- the majick in the mundane – and they do. Through such musicianship not heard in decades, this show is perfectly cast in every element, even down to the sorcerer at the board. Morean's well-tamed, dissociative identity vocals play all the characters under the proscenium in this tumultuous, relentless drama of thought and sound. Complex off-beats, jolting time changes, and demonstrative chord progressions in less skillful hands would be patched together like an ugly collage designed to trigger the car-wreck mentality, at best. But, this work is not sewn, it's woven. True, this most likely wouldn't be the first choice for background noise while taking in some black sunshine, though the title track and "Funeral for a Continent" would certainly belong on that playlist, it's a journey you can't stop once you start. Each song has its own ink that stains you with riffs and words and phrases, while keeping you on edge, intoxicated or intrigued. Then when it's done, like a kid who just got off the roller coaster, you'll want to ride it again. And when you do, you find twists and turns that you didn't remember or notice before, so you ride it again…and again…
Very often a "prog death" or a "prog anything" band has a tendency to mix too much prog with not enough death, or a whole lot of anything with not very much prog. Fusion propels the industry forward and it's a precarious medium to find the balance, which is when your audience is not aware they're listening to anything but music. These men perform so tight, so fluent, so intuitively, it rivals the likes of a very dark Yes or a Rush from a forsaken abyss. The only hint of humanity this work reveals is that at times, it risks getting up its own ass with brazen displays of sapiosexuality. Granted, getting off on brain food is better than brain damage. However, regardless, they set out to create Metal, but delivered an experience. And if this is what they've got for a debut, how could anyone possibly imagine what they could do for an encore?
There are many primal, brutal, and glorious projects out there worth every ounce of respect and support -- and comparison's a disease, so don't catch it. But, this? Unexpected. Powerful, masterful, bold, flawless, inspiring, haunting, uncomfortable, igniting, grotesque, and exquisite, the sacred geometry that is "Grimoire," whether despised or revered, is not an accomplishment. It's a game-changer.
About this Writer: T. Ray Verteramo // T. Ray is a product of New York Mediterranean upbringing, discovering Alice Cooper before puberty, and Iron Maiden after. Taken underwing by the former managing editor of Hit Parader magazine in 1985, she took to freelancing, writing up the local and national circuit for 7 years. A new millennium, a published dystopic thriller, and a CNN article on life in metal in the 80's later, she's been thrown back to the wolves, into a much darker and deeper part of the forest.
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