As if Gorguts met Isis for lunch and the two later casually partook in rough coitus, Sweden’s Moloken make some heavy, heavy music. Call it progressive sludge metal or even an incredibly atmospheric derivative of death metal, the band’s second record “Rural” is an oppressive sea of fury, and it resonates with me in a way few bands of its style manage to do. The songwriting may be solid and the production some of the best I’ve seen in metal, but it’s the ubiquitous atmosphere that has this album screaming ‘masterpiece’.
In their press kit and interviews, Moloken have voiced a concern that all too many bands in metal ultimately sound indistinguishable from one another; a bleak statement I have sadly come to agree with. True enough, Moloken’s resistance from this heavy metal clone complex pays off. Although their dark brand of post-metal can still find itself associated with a number of prescribed genres, “Rural” feels like a natural collision of influences from across the spectrum, from black and doom metal to vintage psychedelia. The closest thing I might compare “Rural” to are Gorguts’ “Obscura” and “From Wisdom To Hate” albums. The Bäckström brothers’ aggressive screams and the highly dissonant guitar riffing is reminiscent of Gorguts, although the compositions are more akin to traditionally atmospheric post-metal like Cult of Luna.
As a whole “Rural” relies on a sickening atmosphere of rage and fear. Although Moloken sticks exclusively to their guitars, drums, and vocals, the music sounds vast. “The Titan Above Us” introduces the sinister mood that pervades the majority of the album. By the epic cornerstone “Ulv”, Moloken have developed their riff energy into a dense fury complete with burstfire picking and blast beats plucked out of black metal canon. All the while, Moloken layer their music with atonal psychedelic clean guitars that sound similar to some of Mastodon’s more progressive material. The band’s style will certainly draw a number of comparisons with other bands, but Moloken combine the elements and make the sound truly their own.
Although it’s not the biggest reason why “Rural” has stood out to me so much, it’s worth mentioning that Moloken enjoy some of the richest, most organic production I have heard on a metal record for quite some time. Perhaps it’s the heavy presence of the bass guitar, but Moloken find an incredible balance between a live ‘raw’ energy, and a clear mix between instruments. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Moloken channel their atmosphere-laden heaviness through such an organic studio execution. Those willing to set the time aside to fairly digest the atmosphere will find an incredible world to explore with “Rural”, one governed by anger and chaos. I give my highest recommendation.
1. The Titan Above Us (06:29)
2. Waltz of Despair (08:37)
3. Casus (03:25)
4. Blank Point (04:27)
5. Ulv (16:23)
6. Thin Line (08:13)
7. Åland (04:40)
* Kristoffer Bäckström – guitar & cocals
* Nicklas Bäckström – bass & vocals
* Jakob Burstedt – drums
* Patrik Ylmefors – guitar