Hailing from a mixture of Missouri and Kansas, Malus Dextra has a very simple but effective way of going about business: let the music do the talking!
Coming together as a culmination of members from previous bands, Malus Dextra have chosen to keep individual personalities out of the equation; after all, you don’t need to know specifics when the machine is working flawlessly together. Not only that, but they’ve gone one step further and not allowed themselves to be affected by sub-genres!
Coming in at just over thirty minutes, the eight track debut album gives you very little warning about what you’re about to experience; opening track “Annihilation” goes from nothing to in your face within the first ten seconds! The scratch vocals come at you with so much passion and energy that you can feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, as the guitars and drums dance together beautifully in the background, before there is a very harmonic change that showcase lighter sounds and nice clean vocals that caught this reviewer off guard. The breakdown that showcases a little guitar solo is just a nice cherry on top and a teaser of what is yet to come.
“Wanderer” starts with an ominous sound that is broken by some of the cleanest, crispest guitar this reviewer has heard in a long time! The clean vocal are more prominent this time, as the chorus and clean vocals really pair nicely with the scratch. Kicking into a higher gear after the breakdown, you will be fighting the urge to start an impromptu fight pit wherever you’re listening, as the adrenaline really starts pumping. A couple of really impressive and breathtaking growls are thrown in for good measure, showcasing the complete vocal talent that is hidden behind the mask of the front man.
“Voodoo” comes at you from a different direction as it takes you through twists and turns you’d never have expected from the first two songs! Showcasing an almost rap-eqsue style of lyric delivery (very much like a System of a Down/Slipknot hybrid), this steals the show on this track; the instruments are a nice accompanying touch, as they don’t overwhelm or drown out the vocals. The guitar solo that leads into the drum run before the last chorus is nice and personally speaking a tad too short!
The first single off the album “Traces of Hate” was the perfect choice in this reviewer’s eyes to have earnt that title; after taking a few seconds to warm you up, everything kicks off and the urge to headbang rises the longer the song goes on! Chugging along at a very steady pace from start to finish, the guitar and the drums have paired up beautifully giving the very passionate lyrics the perfect platform in which to be heard. The freight train picks up momentum just over halfway through, as the drumming tempo increases and the guitar solo that rings out before the final round of lyrics being very nice touches.
Kicking off with the sound of marching soldiers, “The War Machine” slowly builds up to clean vocals telling the story about how people give up their souls for the purpose of war; the scratch vocals coming over the top really show the distain that is felt within the band! Discussing the effects of war, lyrics such as ‘die with the nations of silence, I am the war machine’ when paired with the description of planes flying overhead and raining destruction, paint for a very heavy song that affects more than just your hearing sense. Closing out with nice soft guitar as everything fades out to silence in the background and the sound of a film projector coming to an end is a very nice touch.
The bass on “Through My Eyes” is going to catch your ears straight away; coming at you with a very funk heavy sound (think Flea from RHCP), that carries across into the guitar that join not too long afterwards. The lyrics are delivered in a similar style of Voodoo, which just goes to show that it wasn’t a fluke earlier! The vast opposite between the rap/rock and metal genres are bridged seamlessly in a way that has rarely, if ever been done before; the dancing fingers on the fretboard during the solo, the insane pressure that you can hear being applied to the drum skins and the venom that comes out in the scratch vocals are just mind-blowing.
Starting out with either a piano or organ, longest song of the album “Black Mass” showcases multiple aspects of metal that you might not have heard if Malus Dextra allowed themselves to fall into a sub-genre. You are figuratively strapped into your seat when the piano/organ gets replaced by the guitar, as it slowly builds like a rollercoaster ascending to a drop; however instead of reaching insane speeds as you fly down multiple stories, you’re taking through a lot of twists, turns and a few smaller bumps throughout this seven minute ride.
Unfortunately “Decay” is the last song on the album, but it most definitely makes sure to stand out and leave a long lasting impression in your mind. After thirty minutes of fast, heavy hitting and in your face metal, the last thing you would expect to hear is an acoustic song….but welcome to the curveball that is the ‘Malus Dextra’ album! The passion and emotion in the vocals deliver quite a reality check; lyrics such as “the death of freedom, the beginning of the end” and “darkness breaking, darkness like an angry ocean wave” are going to cause listeners to reflect once this song and album draw to a close.