Demo:listen: Malleus

Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, grind, black, doom, sludge, heavy, progressive, stoner, retro, post-, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen, we bring the hammer down hard with Boston’s Malleus.  

Malleus is a trio of Bostonians who draw their lyrical inspiration from those dark days in late 17th century New England, a time of mass hysteria, when people—mostly women—suspected of witchcraft were tried and oftentimes executed for extremely dubious reasons. The parallels between then and now, and the whole idea of mass hysteria among the people, fear-mongering by their leaders, and general scapegoatism are simply too much to handle this morning, so let’s tackle, instead, the subject of Malleus’ musical inspiration. After the intro, it should take you about six seconds to figure out what this three piece are all about. But then a minute later, you’ll realize that this ain’t just some slay-by-numbers Hellhammer/Celtic Frost revivalism. There’s something more to their sound.

Nelson AKA The Hammer, guitarist of Malleus, explains: “The Hellhammer/Frost influence runs through every song without a doubt, but we treat it strictly as an influence while we incorporate ideas of our own. Though we enjoy playing punk, it doesn’t allow for much creativity and after playing it for years, can get a bit repetitive. This is why we started this band, to have a forum where we can experiment with dynamic songs and include a wide array of our influences, from black metal, to doom metal, hardcore punk, and more. Again, the CF/Hellhammer formula is dynamic enough where it provides a great foundation for the rest of our influences and ideas.” Nelson goes on to relate how he and Malleus’ drummer Chris (herein known as The Relentless) also play in a punk/hardcore band called Eastern Bloc, while Malleus’ bassist Paul (AKA The Channeler) is the man behind the relatively new, but no less great black metal band, Akrasia.

But while Storm of the Witchcraft is a brand new demo, Malleus have been practicing for quite some time. “Malleus began practicing years ago,” Nelson says, adding that it all started when he was on a huge Celtic Frost and Discharge “kick.” “At that point, D-Beat was huge in punk and it seemed like everyone wanted to sound like their own version of Discharge,” Nelson says. But he thought to try something different with the D-beat. So, Nelson says, he got together with Chris/The Relentless to attempt “a band that was in the vein of Hellhammer and Frost while drawing from the same well as those bands did (Motorhead, Venom, Discharge, etc).” Then they brought in Paul/The Channeler, even though he was more interested in starting a Bathory worship band, relates Nelson. But after some tinkering, writing, re-writing, and even “re-appropriating” a decade old song in the instance of “The Wolf,” Malleus finally found their own sound. Nelson explains: “After a time we chaffed with the idea of being a straight up Celtic Frost/Bathory clone, and decided to do our own thing while making our core influences loud and clear. From there everything merged into what you [hear] on Storm of Witchcraft.”

And how about the length of this so-called demo? In a time when too many bands are rushing out the door with a new tape or 7” the moment they’ve laid down a few riffs, it’s refreshing to hear a lengthy and substantial demo. Indeed, Storm of Witchcraft is a regular Death Fiend/Satanic Rites/Morbid Tales/Emperor’s Return with its seven tracks of diehard consistency and conviction to the old ways. Says Nelson: “While Storm of Witchcraft technically started as a demo, we ended up recording 8 tracks that were all conceptually linked to one another (lyrically and musically) and just included them all. Our reasoning was two-fold. First, we like how older bands (Hellhammer for example) often delivered their cassettes by putting an insane amount of tracks on them. It just seems like you got more bang for your buck. Second, as we began writing lyrics, we started to see that many of the themes we were writing about were present in a lot of the songs so we felt weird about only including some of the songs, as the listener would only get fragments of a fuller story.” As for the hitherto circumvented topic of the lyrics, we’ll let Nelson explain. “‘Storm of Witchcraft,’ for example . . . ties the themes of fear, oppression, and mass-madness from all the previous songs together for one final push. It’s here when you clearly see that those who struggle for good are finally consumed by their own fear and become the monsters that will go down in history, not the saviors they imagined themselves to be. They unleashed a nightmare upon themselves. A deserving fate.”

Malleus’ Storm of Witchcraft is currently available for digital download, but if you want to hear these seven songs at their best, get in touch with Nelson through the Malleus’ Bandcamp page, and get yourself one of the tapes. Even the price is old school: for only $5 ppd (within the US) you simply can’t go wrong. Recorded with Chris Corry (of Magic Circle), mixed at Side Two Studios, and entirely independently released, Storm of Witchcraft is a demo tape for the ages.

You heard it here first on Demo:listen. Check this space next and every Friday for promising new metal.