Of all the trends that have to come to prominence within the metal underground over the last several years, the murky/cavernous death metal thing is surely the least interesting (pro tip: if you really want to piss some people off, refer to this junk as “caverncore”). In fact, I’d say my interest in bands shitting out non-riffs from underneath a pile of wet blankets is exactly zero. But there are exceptions to every rule, and the mysterious Canadians known as Malsanctum have proven that there is something to be said for this sub sub genre with Metamorbid Fetishization, their debut(?) release on Germany’s ever-prolific Iron Bonehead Productions.
What sets Malsanctum apart is the fact their sound is as much about noise as it is about murkified metal. Every nook and cranny of Metamorbid Fetishization is positively dripping with the stuff, in fact the twenty-four minute track collapses into a sonic miasma of formless feedback and distortion at around the fifteen minute mark. Is it possible that this utterly enigmatic band is influenced as much by Merzbow and Brighter Death Now as they are by the almighty Incantation? Satan only knows, but whatever the case, it is this willingness to bring a terrifyingly experimental edge to the music that makes this such an enthralling listen.
All that said, hellish, ear-slaughtering noise is just one facet of Malsanctum’s attack. Indeed, Metamorbid Fetishization works on both the metal and noise fronts because it is an impressively varied listen, especially for such a short release. They bring some smoked-out, slo-mo grooves to the table and then proceed to bury them in pitch-black atmosphere; the music somehow manages to be catchy and eerie at the same time. Occasionally the band picks up the pace, their churning bursts of speed sounding like a cement mixer with a black metal band trapped inside its revolving drum before sinking back into a swamp of toxic death-sludge.
As one would expect, the production is lo-fi as fuck, but this only serves to enhance the EP’s potency. A band like Malsanctum begs to be bathed in filth, and in spite of the fact that this is probably one of the year’s gnarliest-sounding metal releases so far, you can still hear exactly what’s going on. How they managed to maintain such clarity while at the same time sounding like they’re broadcasting from the bottom of the abyss is beyond me, but it totally rules.
With Malsanctum, Iron Bonehead have a winner on their hands that should appeal to a pretty wide range of folks; I could very well see fans of noise and dark ambient getting into this just as much as those that live and die by death, doom and black metal. There will no doubt be a shit-ton of metal tapes released this year, but as of right now Metamorbid Fetishization has the set bar for 2015.