Now, for once, I actually know who’s made the cover. It was made by Kenny Lindström who resides over at Organic Level. Deep within the wilderness of the forests of Sweden, the story would begin. A bunch of mean looking crows beneath the tails and trees. Maybe the inspiration for this cover came from the nature of Sweden? I don’t really know, but it feels that way. At the same time it feels kind of exotic, as if they’d cover themselves in palms and vines. The colors match each other with a nice and sharp precision, at the same time it comes with rough edges which makes the texture of it look more worn. They artist they’ve hired for this one, as mentioned above with name, seem to be a very skilled one. Whilst the color-combination make it seem more in-your-face and dark than the lettering of it, the reversed little birdies almost form a fractal with the rest of the background. So, that may explain why I’d expect a hint of psychedelia in this record. Also, the doom and gloominess of it entwined with the dark and alluring could give me a hint of it being doom metal and black metal. Basically everything that’s influenced them to begin with. Let’s see if this will reflect itself accompanied by the music.
I know that this album is a little bit older and maybe not up to date. But since I got in contact with them a while ago, I promised to review their record too. So better late than sorry.
1. The Titan Above Us (6:29)
Starting with the first song, The Titan Above Us an almost Katatonia-like intro you’d only hear in one of their song. Or the likes of it for that matter, a blend of death and doom together. An element that needs to be forged with care to even be remotely good. The intro of this song has a nice texture to it, with background-drumming and riffing in all corners of the universe (song). Which makes it a pretty interesting intro to begin with, not stampeding away like a wild beast as most of the metal-acts would like to enjoy it. Or slowly chugging away with boring instrumentals. It feels as if this intro is really throughout and thoughtful to say the least, the sound scape sounds as if it’s free with no restrictions. I must say that I loose myself within all these riffs and the arrangement, the intro is one of the longest intros I’ve ever heard.
Not too shabby either, it doesn’t feel like I want to exit the building in dismay. Whilst it continually builds up to a climax, the climax is set with ultimate precision somewhere along the lines of 2/4 into the song. So that’s almost half of the song. Here’s where the singer enters with his howling and doom-metal sounding voice, almost as if they’d playfully induce elements of the traditional doom metal after the seemingly death-doom metal intro. I actually didn’t notice the change of it, because it was somewhat sublime to me. I could go on all day, but this song has so many dimensions to it that it’s ridiculous. I keep rewinding the song to find out sections that I have missed out on, and there are many that I have missed out on. Like a trick or treat box with candy stuck in the bottom of it, without you noticing.
A damn good piece of candy that you’d want, but didn’t really know existed. I’ve really missed these kind of songs, where traditional doom and death-doom meet halfway. But somehow Moloken seem to make this their own domain, without restricting themselves to unnecessary labels. Labels that I’m restricted to when reviewing this song, because I need to get it out to people so they’d understand what I was talking about. Somehow, this shows that they’re still finding their sound but that they’re not shutting the door to influences from far and remote areas of metal that you’d never think of in the first place. A charismatic, sugary-coated, gloomy, doom piece of song that open my third eye. Sugary-coated as in luxury candy or obscure and exotic candy you’d never dream of tasting, escaping into your mouth from the container and activating your other senses. The senses you’d never think you have. This opening song surely sets the mood for the rest of it, and I can only hope that the other songs have such an amazing quality and free expressionism.
So as a bonus, I thought of reviewing the video to this first song The Titan Above Us.
The people who helped Moloken make this movie were Standard Film Team. I don’t know the creative process behind it, but as the music-video is opening with the intro – the setting of it couldn’t be better. Rural forest with moss, who could’ve ever thought of it?
The sepia of the movie surely helps bring out the best of the intro, and the mood-changer that breaks the “silence” of the peaceful but torn forest comes when it switches to someone driving a vehicle. A man with tension in his eyes and a body-language that reveals that he’s done something terribly wrong. Again, the riffing and structure of the song synchronizes perfectly with the video. As we see the trees moving by and some panoramic shots of the forests from different perspectives, we see more of the man. He’s got a rough-looking appearance and he doesn’t seem too happy.
Gradually making his way throughout the pesky roads of the north, he finally comes to his final destination. A remote place where it seems like nobody would be even close to find out what he’s done or is doing. A wonderful shot of the forest and sun piling up above the beautiful trees, high grass and a stop. The ultimate climax but at the same time anti-climax, when he takes a cigarette and moves to the trunk of his car. Here’s where it gets interesting. When he opens the trunk, there’s something laying in the back of it, but when he grabs it – it doesn’t have much resistance and seems to be a pretty light object to be carrying around or unloading.
But when we see a side-shot of when he unloads it, there suddenly seems to be some added weight to it since he’s had more of a struggle getting it on the ground than actually picking it up. If anybody could explain this, it’d be interesting, because here’s one of the first flaws that I discovered. However, the mood is still completely intriguing and makes me want to see more of the music-video. He then drags the body within a beautiful picture, where the contrast between the shadowy figure and the sunny landscape is intact. A yin and yang one would suppose, where the sun is going down and it’s getting dark, and a shady figure which you could lay your eyes on and automatically say: “he’s up to no good”.
After he’s dragged the sack a bit, he then begins to hammer the “victim” or whatever’s in the sack he’d been dragging around. The more interesting part of the video is a little bit into it, when he drags the sack further into the forest and starts digging. When he’s finished, he pushes the body into the “grave“. After that, he symbolically looks around and lights a cigarette. Here’s where it gets even more complicated. When he’s done with it, he takes out yet another sack or body from his vehicle and starts moving it around in the forest. The music-video ends with him putting in some dirt into the pit where he’s pushed down the second one after digging a hole. If I’d over-analyze this, the meaning of the video is that he’s sacrificing something for the Titans. Or it could be that the Titans are watching over him while he’s doing it, and the camera-angles suggest that they’re not too pleased with what he’s doing and maybe that’s making him so nervous.
Anyway, without further a due, it’s a really great music-video with a lot of tension. It makes you wonder what he’s up to and what his motives are, you begin to speculate on whether he’s doing this or that. Suggestively, the subliminal riffing and drumming in both the intro and the song make the video so much greater. They’ve managed to take their sublimity to another height, making it clear for the listeners that this element of the song actually exists there. Something I didn’t realize until I listened through the song a couple of times, but something I do realize when watching through the whole video. Maybe it’s because of how it’s filmed, or how the story goes. There’s something mystical about it, something subliminal and definitely a high degree of ambition. Which would be needed to make such a video and such a song in the first place, I love it.
Back to the songs?
2. Waltz Of Despair (8:37)
Yes, enough of that. Let’s proceed with their second song Waltz Of Despair. The transgression between the opening song and this one is pretty nice, this time it goes the other way around. Instead of a more mellow opening, they decide to throw in a distorted and murky intro. Almost like something that could’ve come out of Eyehategod or any band on that side of the spectrum, which only goes to show that they still show no disarray from pending in between these massive genres and the sub-genres for that matter. The difference would be that the roaring riffs in the background remind me of an age of death-doom that disappeared quickly from the living realm and decided to wallow itself down into the underground. Also, this song is a little bit longer, which gives you more time to understand the complexity that just hit you.
It’s impressing how murky-sounding the sound scape can be at time, but the fact that all the instruments find their way into the mess that’s created on the surface just shows how much time have been put down on it. Other than that, the secondary sound-scape which gives and take a little bit of the murkiness away also induced you into a trance-like state as if you’d wallow down the swamp and found yourself below the surface. Finding all the goods and secret below it, but not yet being at the last bastion. There are many dimensions added to it, suddenly when you feel a little bit sleepy, the vocalist decides that it’s time for you to wake up again. Bouncing you back into the array of sound-scapes, making them fight amongst each other to only let one of them live past the horrid fate of losing.
When you’d think the song was about to end, it comes right back at you again. Wallowing in the background, streamlining together with distorted riffs and a slow baseline synched for precision. The strike is about to come, and who’ll know, you might not survive the experience. Anyhow, the outro of the song is as great as the rest of it. They never loose steam and just pave their way through the sneaky world of Moloken. As if they’re trying to escape and skip past the outro, trying to fit in a medley of some sort. However, the clanging rhythms in the edge of the outro make for a great ending and I’ve survived the first fight with my senses and my motivation of writing. It’s hard to describe the feelings I get, and it surely gets harder the more I get into it. This song deserves a medal for an uncanny but pleasant trip into the steep but complex roller-coaster that is their particular way of packing a multitude of endeavors within different sound-scapes. All in one song, even though it emotionally feels like a whole album. Musically surpassing dogmas, the pointy fingers and basic comparisons that are to be found in more primitive analyzing.
3. Casus (3:25)
Time for the third song: Casus. Which comes with an intro that sounds like an alarm went off. Pretty much a showcase of the competent drummer, bassist and guitarists. Somehow it reminds me of Dancing December by Katatonia, but only in a small portion of the song. They’ve scaled it down to about three minutes, and an avalanche of hard riffs and good drumming make up the sound scape. Changing it from an all out assault into a daydreaming virtuous, without a split second of consideration. Maybe one of my less favorable songs up until now to be honest, but it’s a good song to squeeze in between the seats. Like an intermission to the lengthier and more complex songs, but a little bit of flirtatious fling with the death metal sound, a hint of death-doom and a larger portion of the 70’s progressive rock sound.
4. Blank Point (4:27)
Transgressing into the fourth song Blank Point. Also a shorter song, but with more of the in-depth sounds I heard in the songs The Titan Above Us and Waltz Of Despair. Like a desperate outcry from the lengthier side of the album, trying to pull it back into the vortex and transport it back to the three or four-dimensional situation those songs were a part of. I like the stop-and-go riffs that intimidates the more timid riffing that can be heard in the background, as if the two-dimensional and categorizing try its hardest on my brain to fit them into a neat little pocket. Saying like: “this and this sound-scape are those genres”. But without trying to claim back the categorizing, I try my hardest to envision what this could be described as. Flight of the Moloken? No. Maybe if I’d think a little harder, it’d go better? Sure enough, it did. I’d say that this song tries to encompass Moloken, the feisty but outdrawn sound making it’s way out of the glass shackle that it’s been attached to all of this time. Trying to bounce it over the cliff, so it can break out and free itself.
A shorter endeavor than the other tracks, but surely feels like a streaming flow of metal-goodness and complexity. Cramming all that juice into one storage could’ve been devastating, but isn’t, since it feels much longer. I believe this is the strongest hand that can be played, and that they’ve had an ace up their sleeve. It fits perfectly where it’s placed, it doesn’t bore you completely and isn’t foreseeable as a thrown-in break if you’d get bored with the lengthier songs. I’m also very impressed by the vocalist, he seems to have a wide-range of abilities to choose from. Everything from an outdrawn growl to higher (but still low) pitched shriek. However, as my energy-resources grow into nothingness, it’s hard to withstand the immense power the track has on my brain. As if I’m being moved into a steady place of fatigue, just so they can hold onto me and crave the last energy I have, so they can squeeze it out for another minute and another – just so I can listen to this song forever. It’d be a painful ordeal, but it’s a lucrative one at that.
5. Ulv (16:23)
Yes, finally! Time for the longest song on the album, which goes by the name of Ulv. Pretty black-metal sounding, and how right was I? Very right! The slow background intro-riffing reminds me of the mythical and mystical black-metal dimension that I hold very dear. One of the most interesting songs sound-scape wise, since it incorporates the oh so benevolent sphere of black-metal darkness. And the fuckin’ drums! Come on guys, this is becoming a masterpiece and I’m not even through the first two minutes. Probably one of my favorite parts of the song, when the sinister drumming rattles in the background and unleash the fury of hell beneath with full force. Since that part is so good, it becomes all-natural to want it again, and again… and again. To infinity.
So the more gloomy parts of the songs easily gets overshadowed by the blast-beats and hard-hitting drumming which comes along very nicely as a contrast to that particular sound-scape. Why did Kvelertak come to my mind? Because they blend two different genres perfectly and so does Moloken in this song. I’ve heard different sound-scapes battling their way through, but this must be one of those perfect songs that actually manage to make it a battle between genres but also manage to emotionally seduce me into loving them and not separating the genres from each other too much. Or should I say sound, maybe? I don’t really know, I can’t really help myself from describing it in the best manner possible. Somehow this also made me realize the importance of the -core ending to words. Because I think it played an enormous role too and sometimes it sounds like that too, but it feels wrong to portray it wholly in that manner.
If I’m not mistaken, it might not be a secret either, but the latest music from Katatonia (e.g. more well-refined sound and “harder”) seem to be a major influence in this ordeal. But then again, it would be difficult to just mention that, because amidst all the referencing – they still have a unique sound, these Moloken guys. The ending and more technical approach to it makes it worthy it’s closure of the song and the outro can be felt down from my head, to my heart and to my smelly feet. I actually sweated when I listened to it, since it gave me a euphoria. But not in the way Loreen gave it, instead in the way Moloken made me feel. Damn.
6. Thin Line (8:13)
As my fingers become one with the keyboard, I shall deliver the sixth song on the album, namely: Thin Line. An out of tune but at the same time carefree riff in the beginning makes up for a nice introductory. Then the steel-barrage of drums and baselines make their way through the fluffy and wonderful landscape. Or yeah, it might’ve been a fluffy intro for me, but that’s just because of the barrage that was dropped on my head directly after the unsuspecting (me) find myself wagging back and forth to the rhythm of doom. In my opinion, this song deliver the best of both the main vocalist and the second one, since they don’t compromise with their range and they don’t overextend and make it silly either. Menacingly rough and tough, like a beatdown in a back-alley of some ratinfested neighborhood. If we lived in a barren wasteland, that is. Feels almost as if we’ve nuked ourselves and are trying to find somewhere to survive in the apocalyptic scenario that’s painted up in front of my eyes. Or it could be that it’s happening just now and it’s the countdown of the last few seconds of carelessness and freedom. However, this song makes for a good placement too since they give everything and empty their souls into the mix. It’s beautiful in a way, because then the last song would become affectionate in a way that could only be described as setting the last piece of the puzzle together. Gather around folks, because this song will blow your mind and throw you into the next one with such sublime transgression that you won’t even notice it. But it’s there and it’s coming.
7. Åland (4:40)
Bang! There you have it. What are we going to do now? Listen to the seventh song Åland and reconcile with our deepest feelings. Reset time, look around as everything falls into place, this song is probably what Moloken is for me emotionally right now. I’d play this song under the stars if I’d have the possibility of such a setting for this song. Unfortunately, I’m a musical douche-bag right now, and I’ve listened to this when I’ve paved my way through the city and on my way home. No darkness, no, nothing. I think that would be the ultimate setting, think of this when you hear this song and hear it fading out. One of the less intimidating songs and one of the more over-analyzing ones, delayed riff and a monsoon of sweating drumsticks making their last hit on the drum-set. With every sense of the word “precision” that there is and ever will be. A carefully planned out song that will take you to all the dimensions I’ve talked about, that will make you reconsider my contradictions. It’s self-explanatory really, I’ve only tried to explain it as good as possible. Reviews don’t write themselves, but if emotions did, this is the ultimate song that shows off the emotions that are swirling inside of me right now – and those emotions are armed and ready, aiming for that which is called: Moloken.
Kodus to Moloken for delivering one of the best albums of 2011. There ain’t much surpassing this eloquence of metal, if I’m going to be so harsh as in categorizing this masterpiece. I’ll be looking forward to the next album you release. A big thank you to those of you whom have helped them too, like Kenny Lindström who made the wonderful cover and Standard Film Team who made the music-video for the track The Titan Above Us. A big thank you to everyone else who helped Moloken with this album.
Favorite songs: The Titan Above Us, Ulv and Åland.