ANCIENT MALIGNITY: Ancient Malignity
Release year: 2020
Label: Inhuman Assault Productions
Yeah, I know, I know: complaining about the production values and sound of an underground extreme metal band is pointless most of the time. And even when it isn’t, there’s bound to be someone who comes at you with that age-old argument of “true black metal isn’t supposed to sound clean and fancy!” Yeah, necro sound is OK, nobody expects an underground album to have big budget sound, and so on, but after a certain point, it isn’t fine.
Sadly, US death/black metal group Ancient Malignity are some distance on the bad side of that divide. Whilst not an indecipherable porridge of intentional shittiness, the sound detracts from the music. The drums are a bit of a muffled plod, but the real culprit are the guitars: they’re thin, they’re powerless, and they’re too far in the background. The vocals, on the other hand, are too loud in the mix.
It’s a bit of a shame, really, because otherwise there’s no major flaws on their self-titled debut album. Primitive, brutal, crude and straightforward black/death metal is the name of the game here, but not in the bestial/war metal vein (although they look the part!). Instead, theirs is a throwback to the ancient days when satanic death metal and black metal weren’t a different breed altogether, but two sides of the same filthy coin. The vocals are a gruff, rumbling growl laced with the occasional tearing shriek, and the riffwork is all kinds of buzzsawin’, shreddin’ chaos that’s smack dab in the middle. You can look at this from either perspective: primitive old school death metal with black metal elements, or black metal with death metal elements.
Truthfully, even though the US trio don’t do any fuck-ups, they don’t muster up to a jaw-dropping demonstration of skill and vision, either. I honestly like their super crude old school touch, but at the same time I have to acknowledge that it’s a bit derivative and unoriginal. Back in the 90’s, there were more than a few bands who sounded like this, although the band don’t too much remind me of any one particular band.
But, shame about the sound. If this were a demo from the mid-90’s, one could well live with this sound. However, for a full-length album from this day and age, one would expect a bit more. Especially since the rather anaemic guitar sound really detracts from the crushing and brutal nature of the music.
As it is now, Ancient Malignity – both the band and the album – come across as unpolished gems. There are definitely the seeds of something good in here, but on their debut the band doesn’t reach their full potential. A tad more originality wouldn’t hurt, but you already know what I think they really need to work on.
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