Entering the early days of the decade with a record loud enough to wake up their hometown neighbours in Cult of Luna is Moloken – Umeå, Sweden’s angrier stepchild hiding in the garage playing with fire while the favourite entertains guests in the lounge. Operating in almost similar circles, Moloken’s latest full-length, Unveilance of Dark Matter, leans further away from the post-metal landscapes of their local peers and really takes root in the band’s love of extreme metal, hardcore, and punk. With a rough around the edges approach and six chambers loaded with carnal utterings, twisting bass riffs, and cascading drums, it’s quite a bit of alright.
2015’s All Is Left To See was an exceptional slice of post-metal experimentation, earning favourable reviews from this blog and this particular contributor. Following it was always going to be difficult, even with over four years between releases, but Moloken’s continued lust for creating new sounds and textures has ensured there is little to no hangover. “Venom Love” and “Lingering Demise” anchor the record, full of the same wave-riding surges of crushing sludge and raw vocals that previous releases have been chocked full with, and it’s not a slight in saying that either of these two could belong on earlier records. Familiarity does often breed contempt though, so it’s just as well that Moloken switches up their attack throughout Unveilance of Dark Matter.
Whether delving into manic, maniacal metalcore/mathcore mashings or taking the time to build up to thundering sludge bedlam, Moloken’s crafting of abyssal, morose metal has never sounded as raw. Helped by a dynamic yet organic production and mastering, every note, every scrape of the gorgeous sounding bass strings all carry through the static. “This Love is a Curse” brings to mind the gnarled sounds of Zozobra, with chaotic, disjointed riffs meeting together in the middle. “Shadowcastle (Pt. 1)” takes longer to find its feet, but when it does it reaches the heady heights of melancholic death metal akin to the old and mighty Opeth. When the titular finale bursts out of the traps into a driving, sludge-punk battery, it’s clear that this latest offering has Moloken reaching back to their earliest influences in aide of creating something equally as impressive as the records that inspired the band in days gone. Uniquely disparate. Uniformly enjoyable.
A multi-pronged vocal attack is one constant on Unveilance of Dark Matter, pulling heartstrings apart at their roots and painting a hundred pictures with a dozen or so hoarse, unfiltered sentences. Paired with some wonderfully placed call-and-response chants, the scratchy attack of the vocal tracking is a perfect complement to the rest of the sounds. The production and clarity of each instrument see to that. It’s only on the filler tracks where the record feels like it isn’t being performed live in the space between your ears. They do halt the pace of the record and, while they are pleasantly moody and atmospheric, don’t add anything one would miss if they were simply just not there.
Unveilance of Dark Matter scratches at the raw emotions we all push down to the deepest bottom of our hearts and souls; through crunchy staccato blasts of metal guitar and cannon-heavy drum barrages, Moloken bring these repressed anxieties and wayward thoughts to light. Over forty minutes of bleak and savage sludge metal, the band rarely tease the uplift of a major key shift. Instead, they threaten the listener with the odd moment of clarity, a brief respite from the assault, then it all comes crashing back down and around. Post-metal doesn’t have to stick to the recipe and this record proves this. Through the frozen frog and long nights of a Scandinavian winter, Moloken actually turn out to be quite the charmers. If cataclysmic shifts of pace, tempo, and strength get you hot under the collar, that is.
Unveilance of Dark Matter is available Jan. 31 via The Sign Records.