Album Title: Maleficus
This is the third album from Vore, an American band playing slow-paced death metal.
The production on this album is just about perfect. The guitar sound is heavy, with plenty of bite. The drums are just where they ought to be in the mix, so that they back up the guitars without overwhelming them. The vocals are easy to make out, which is nice to see in a death metal band, yet punishing enough to fill out the band's sound. I'd have preferred it if the bass were a bit louder, but it fits the music well enough where it is.
The songwriting on Maleficus is superb. This album rarely exceeds mid-paced speed, so there's no hyper-blasting sections to hide the shortcomings of the writing behind, as has become so common with modern death metal bands. Instead, each song is carefully crafted, built on a solid foundation of distinctive riffs. These guys approach Morbid Angel in their ability to create epic, challenging songs. The lyrics are equally intelligent, providing a vivid backdrop for the music.
"Maleficus" combines nimble guitar and bass work with searing vocals. The double-tracking on the vocals during the middle part is a touch of genius!
"The Line That Divides" puts the emphasis on the vocals and drums, with a simple backing guitar line during much of the song. I like the heavy, hopeless feeling this song creates.
"Threshold of Empowerment" is sublime. Everything here contributes to an atmosphere of absolute might, from the tasteful vocal effects to the excruciating pace. The section that begins with "search out the brave" is CRUSHING, and the solo that follows it is equally fine. All this, and masterful lyrics as well! This isn't just the best song on the album, it's among the best death metal songs I've ever heard.
The short drum interlude, "Legion of Martyrs", gives you a bit of space to breathe, but "Misery Embrace" will smash you all over again. Nice breakdowns on this one. The vocal timing here is also notable.
"Ashes" is a lovely acoustic guitar piece, the perfect thing to break up the album a bit without ruining the overall mood. If you can find a oscilliscope plugin for the CD player on your PC, check out the neat symmetry during the last twenty seconds of this song!
The opening to "Wrath Wrought Ruin" is a bit faster than the other songs on the album, but things slow down again before too long. The jangling bass work here is very cool... and is that a gong I hear? Shades of Cirith Ungol!
The vocal variation on "Fall Unto Chaos" is impressive. I like the progressively more complex stop-and-go riffing as well. The chorus on this song is catchy as hell, and if that doesn't do it for you: "Waaaaaaaaarrrrr... and HATRED!"
Meaningful, relentlessly steadfast, and unique -- nobody writes death metal like this anymore! This release embodies all that is heavy, without a scrap of concern for trends or superficial marketing. Maleficus is a must-have album, especially for those who like mid-paced, thoughtful metal. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "Maleficus", "Threshold of Empowerment", "Fall Unto Chaos"