Malignant Eternal - _Far Beneath the Sun_
(Napalm Records, 1997)
by: Henry Akeley (8 out of 10)
Part of me would really like to heap scorn all over this record, since it's yet another milestone in the inevitable but heart-breaking de-clawing of black metal. Another polished, easy-access slab of slick, smooth metal, cloaked in prudently laundered black raiment: a gorgeous robe, crafted of the pelts of wolves -- but beneath it is no emperor, and wolves had to die in its making. Honestly: I think this "light" style of black metal is utterly weak when compared to the (ahem) true purveyors of the style: Abigor, Behemoth, Darkthrone, ULVER, Morgul, Mayhem, Isvind, Diaboli... But I'm not sure Malignant Eternal ever asked to be compared to those bands, and on a strictly musical level, this is a very strong release. Perhaps it will not be very pleasing to other crusty SOBs like me, who like their metal best when it's fresh from the teats of the goat. But if you enjoy the likes of Old Man's Child or the newer Dimmu Borgir, this band may well blow you away. The riff blast that opens "Daemon Song"... damn... much as I'd like to slag it -- turned up loud, it's very powerful stuff. (Why they chose the corny "The Reaper" to open the album instead of this song, I have no idea.) Malignant Eternal have more musical substance than more "pop"-structured stuff like the new Dimmu Borgir: most songs incorporate interesting breaks into unexpected passages, sharp shifts in timing, etc. The title track features cool sudden stops, especially toward the finish, where the song halts, cracks up, then crystallizes: torrent, trickle, icicle. And the final song, "Glory", is done with real musical flair. There's some imaginative, spacey synth work, too. I could go on saying nice things, but the point is that of the "light" black metal releases I've heard, this is probably the best in terms of overall musicality and quality production. At any rate, it ranks up there with the first Old Man's Child record, an articulate and atmospheric METAL album which preceded the current trend. This, too, is articulate and atmospheric, with great performances and a gleaming, multi-layered sound. It's not the most "Malignant" thing I've ever heard, by far, but this has quality that can't be denied.

(article published 17/11/1997)

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