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Musical Discipline and Its Bizarre Manifestations - 83%

bayern, October 26th, 2018

It was really hard to envisage how James Cavalluzzo, the mastermind here, would choose to torment the hapless listener after the ultimate exercise in bizarreness that was “Premeditated Murder”. The scene survived this sincere “assassination” attempt, but the man was by all means going to try something else, something more pernicious even in order to satiate his passion for (un)premeditated sonic, not necessarily music-related the entire time, shocks…

And here we are, getting down for his next instalment from the exuberant Malhavoc saga, an opus that may as well leave a large portion of the fanbase pleasantly surprised largely cause Cavalluzzo has put reigns on his wild imagination; not to a very submissive extent, but still strong enough to keep his creative flair within more acceptable confines. For one thing, vociferous industrial doesn’t play such a vital role here; this is an avant-garde, unorthodox form of metal which brings the atmospheric flair from “The Release” and “Punishments”, but not the aggressive thrashy tools of execution.

The core of the album are creepy minimalistic cuts like “Declaration” and “Discipline” which hypnotic unobtrusive riffage slowly makes its way into the listener’s (sub)conscious, occasionally pricking it with more dramatic developments, but nothing rudely awakening. “No” reminds of the previous effort’s unbridled character with more boisterous, noisier guitars which create some tension mid-way, but the uplifting rappy moments on “Totally Fucked Up” and “Video Song”, and the thick bouncy grooves on “Revitalize (Kill II)” mortify any such more aggressive endeavours, maybe also slightly diminishing the originality accumulated earlier as these numbers spell “numetal by-the-numbers” for a bit. The more individualistic approach receives another boost from the surprisingly playful psychedelic “Naked” and the excellent industrial-tinged cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees’s “Happy House” Cavalluzzo not betraying his semi-whispered sorcerer-like vocal delivery on this one, the man only sparsely present on the seductively dark doomy closure “Journey's End (omega)”.

Despite the several, not always compatible nuances and moods accumulated throughout, this opus creates a strangely homogenous feel, not quite typical for such left-hand-path recordings. It sounds like nothing out there, and yet it doesn’t stupefy the audience at every corner once the latter has settled for the alluringly anti-climactic execution, and the oddball sense of humour expressed through a couple of samples inserted. Cavalluzzo prefers to enrapture the listener with a delusional sense of predictability, revealing the surprises gradually, bit by bit deliberately avoiding any ground for “wow!” or “what the fuck was that?!” exclamations. Mentioning the vocals, the man again doesn’t really sing here; he talks, recites, raps and whispers/semi-whispers throughout steadily refusing to display his actual singing talents if he supposedly has any in the first place. His side-dish-like involvement behind the mike doesn’t mar the flow of the album; on the contrary, as the style chosen is not overtly flashy at all, such a background vocal execution perfectly fits also distinguishing this effort from other similarly-performed, but more prominently vocalized works like Verwaint’s “Ohh! Rang Uhh! Tang” and Carbonized’s “Screaming Machines”. The less ordinary, avant-garde side of our favourite metal was taking more sizeable proportions in the mid-90’s, and Cavalluzzo seemed like the most likely candidate for its spokesman position (Christofer Johnsson, anyone?)…

Unfortunately, the club across the street was beckoning irresistibly, and Cavalluzzo decided to give the DJ’s over there some material to keep them operational; “The Lazarus Complex: A Tale of Two Zombies” and the singles/EP’s surrounding it were almost entirely based on techno/electronic sounds having nothing to do with the band’s previous instalments, think Front Line Assembly for an adequate reference point. There was still some interest in metal left in him, he helped in the production of Voivod’s “Phobos” for example, but at this later stage of his career the adherence to more disciplined, dance-prone repertoire seemed like the norm. Nothing bizarre, nothing too avant-garde; just the requisite dosage of catchy infectious beats to get you (down) in the mood for the routine nocturnal adventures.