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Review

Maligner – Attraction to Annihilation Review

Band: Maligner
Album: Attraction to Annihilation
Label: Blood Harvest
Genre: Deathrash, Thrash Metal, Death Metal
Country: Sweden
Release Date: August 31, 2018

Maligner is a three-piece unit from Malmö, Sweden, that’s dropping their first full-length album Attraction to Annihilation on August 31. Attraction to Annihilation is 31 minutes of high-energy explosiveness that’s incredibly impressive for a new band. This album features an overwhelming array of catchy, thrashy riffs, with death metal vocals that remind the listener of Obituary – the band labels themselves as “deathrash,” and the label fits. This album is a crushingly heavy good time, but as always, there’s some room for improvement.

Let’s start with the good: Maligner has an amazing sense of melody, and they do a fantastic job of working it into a genre that’s not exactly known for being melodic. The riffs on “Disposable” are excellent, and they don’t take anything away from the speed and intensity of the song. Parts of “Reign of Fear” sound like they could have been ripped straight from an early Morbid Angel album. Personally, my favorite songs off this release are “Lust for Fire” and “Into Oblivion.” There’s a section about 1:45 into “Mental Breakdown,” as well, that sets that song apart and suggests that Maligner has a ton of potential.

The musicians in Maligner seem incredibly talented. Some parts are a bit sloppy, as expected for a debut release, but Attraction to Annihilation is filled with blistering guitar solos and high-energy drumming that doesn’t fall into the habit of just being a repetitive drum machine. The guitar solos are probably my favorite part of this album. Lots of thrash bands’ guitar solos involve flailing around in a key as fast as possible and hoping that it sounds hard to play, but Maligner’s solos sound like they’re actually part of the song. They flow well, the melodic lines work with the underlying chords, and they have direction. The drummer’s kick drum particularly stands out as a part of his playing – he doesn’t rely on double bass all the time like many death metal musicians, but instead uses it to complement the guitar’s rhythm.

One aspect of Attraction to Annihilation that really sticks out is how well the concept of “deathrash” is executed. Most bands I’ve heard previously that call themselves “deathrash” seem to think that fast-tempo death metal fits the bill, or they take the opposite approach and just take all the melody and catchiness out of thrash. While Attraction to Annihilation is definitely closer to thrash metal than death metal, it really captures the heaviness of death without sacrificing any of those juicy, thrashy elements that make the listener want to mosh. The vocals overlay the instruments extremely well, and the drummer’s style really ties together the different elements that Maligner has going on.

Unfortunately, much like the word “deathrash” is sort of haphazardly glued together, several of Maligner’s songs feel the same way. Maligner has fallen into the trap that many new thrash bands experience that I like to call “riff collecting.” Transitions between riffs are sloppy, if they exist at all. This is painfully obvious at the beginning of songs: “Oath-bound” and “Lust for Fire” in particular feel like the band finished writing the song, decided that the intro didn’t have a hook, and glued another unrelated riff to the beginning. Oftentimes there’s just too many riffs crammed into one song for the listener to get any handle on it. The album is still fun to listen to, but it’s just not memorable – it feels like Maligner is putting a bit too much emphasis on speed over songwriting.

One other thing to note is that the album has a lack of variety. If what you’re looking for is straight-up high-tempo thrash, this is your record – but if you want a slower breakdown or two, you have to wait until “Beyond Repair.” Admittedly, a lack of tempo variety isn’t really a dealbreaker in thrash.

Overall, Attraction to Annihilation is an admirable debut from a talented bunch of musicians who need to work on their transitions. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but it’s well worth the time to listen to.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tracklist:
1. Oath-Bound
2. Lust for Fire
3. Disposable
4. Salvation
5. Reign of Fear
6. Beyond Repair
7. Mental Breakdown
8. Into Oblivion

Total Playing Time: 30:12

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