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Malpractice > Deviation from the Flow > Reviews > Dragonchaser
Malpractice - Deviation from the Flow

Underground Prog Metal Gold - 85%

Dragonchaser, June 9th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Spinefarm Records

Man, I have been trying to find this album for a long time. I read a review of it in a magazine when it came out and was mesmerized by the cover and odd band name, definitely unusual for a prog band back then. I finally imported a copy from Russia of all places, and I have to say, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it ever since. Malpractice hail from the hyper melodic school of progressive metal, and given this came out in 2005, it was a few years before the more percussive and djent-esque variant of the style became the norm, and so it certainly harks back to a simpler time. Then again, ‘Deviation From The Flow’ doesn’t really worship at the altar of Dream Theater either, although there is some ‘Awake’ here and there in the tricky arrangements. Really, Malpractice had a pretty original thing going.

Building upon extremely tight and melodic riffing, with tons of harmonized licks and hooky twists, ‘Deviation From The Flow’ is sort of what would happen if you took Iron Maiden’s twin guitar driven sound from the 80s and infused it with the catchy, crystalline approach of Amoral when Ari Koivunen took over vocals, sprinkled some Mind’s Eye and Magnitude Nine into the mix, and infused the whole thing with sugary sweet vocals that almost approach pop rock in execution. The end effect serves as a bit of a blueprint for the bands that followed in Malpractice’s wake, from Excalion to Darkwater. Don’t get me, wrong, though, this is still very metallic, with very few keyboards to speak of, and a killer guitar tone that really cuts through the typical Finnish metal production of the time. It just about manages to avoid being power metal by virtue of its strict mid-pace, but given the amount of time changes and creative drum work, you won’t really notice. The solos are absolutely superb as well, always surprising with bright, choppy leads that never end up where you’d expect.

I just love how much of a snapshot in time this album is. It reminds me of my late teens, when I’d be exploring all the cool shit in the Inside Out catalogue, discovering absolute gems by bands like Pain Of Salvation and Enchant that would shape my tastes in prog forever. It’s shame I never got this when it first sparked my interest, as every song here is pure gold, from the driving ‘Assembly Line’, which kicks off with an excellent harmonic riff that kinda wears out its welcome, but it’s such a good lick that it rarely bothers me, to sticky cuts like ‘The Industry’ and the mystical ‘Fragile Pages’, the epic that closes things out. ‘The Long Run’ has the best hook for my money, and some of the most intense guitar interplay, with a twisting neo-classical double-kicked section in the middle, whereas ‘Circles In The Sand’ provides the most reflective moments, like something Vanden Plas would’ve done in the 90s. I just absolutely adore this record; from the Finnvox-esque production to the hooks themselves, it stands apart with wonderfully written songs that never get old no matter how many times I spin them. It’s a shame it has become an unknown gem, because anyone interested in melodic prog metal with actual hooks needs to get their mitts on it at all costs. Underground gold.