Album Review: Malphas - Portal

Album Review: Malphas - Portal

Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Malphas are preparing to reveal the next instalment of their demonic tale on March 29th, 2024. With each release written as a concept around the demon 'Malphas', the upcoming album Portal takes place chronologically two hundred years prior to the events of their 2018 offering The 39th Spirit and it continues with its stunning symphonic, blackened melodeath opus. Delving into themes including politics and economics, Portal immerses in the historical events that lead to the creation of the dystopian world in The 39th Spirit. Set in an alternative fictional imagining of the United States, conspiracy and corruption is given a devilish spin.

The band says of the album:

"Portal is our sophomore album, to be released March 29th, via M-Theory Audio. It is a concept album about a man who makes a pact with Malphas to achieve his high political ideals; however, this backfires and ultimately creates a demonic totalitarian world government which sets the stage for The 39th Spirit."

The record opens with 'The Wizard's Portal,' a swelling, atmospheric Hans Zimmer style orchestration with monastic vocalisations and a sense of dramatic foreboding, setting the tone for the rest of the record. This leads in to the charging and dynamic 'Fiat Empire,' continuing the dramatic orchestras and chants accompanied by furious shredding, deafening blast-beats and rasping gutteral vocals, ending in a political quote. Be prepared for sprawling opulence and muscular attitude throughout this entire record. 'Novus Ordo Seclorum' continues the grandiosity and rampaging pace with the addition of heavy, discernable basslines and dense symphonic harmonies. A chugging interlude full of crushing shreddage, thunderous drums, tolling bells and head-banging attitude leads the charge along with emotive string orchestration and haunting piano. 'Red Shield Syndicate' doesn't hold back with an ascending guitar riff and dramatic choirs. This track twists and turns at lightning speed, building and soaring whilst repeatedly battering you with an onslaught of majestic instrumentation. This track introduces cleaner, powerful vocals mixed in with the demonic, gutteral growls and harsh spoken word moments. Another guitar solo soars in to action in all it's magnificent glory.

'Candle Hands' is just as theatrically splendid as the previous tracks, incorporating dense symphonic grandiosity and heavy basslines. Groove-infused riffs and determined gutteral vocals wind their way through the dramatic orchestration and rising guitar solos. 'Shadow and Blood on Jekyll Isle' begins with a somber piano and violin setting the remorseful atmosphere until it bursts in to life with dramatic flair. Blistering blast-beats, monastic chants and furious riffs lead the charge with relentless rage. 'Leviathan's Moonlit Sanctum' has a dark and ominous atmosphere, telling the story of the demon Malphas returning to the real world where he and his demons murder power elite figures.

'Pale Eyes to Snowy Skies' is introduced with a single piano key, heavy, mournful violins and bass creating an eerie, emotive air, gradually building until desperate yet powerful rasping screams cut through the dense fog with thunderous drums, swelling instrumentation and monastic chants. 'Atonement' serves as a brief interlude once more towards the closing chapter of the record. More somber piano and violins take centre stage here building a dramatically, emotive soundscape which descends in to frantic riffs, charging blast-beats and impressive rasping screams. 'Man, Raven and the Portal' is one final push for this record at an incredible 12 and a half minutes long. The track incorporates all of the opulent orchestration, dramatic flair and pure brutality of the rest of the record in one final assault on the senses however it also features surprise guest female vocals and soaring cleans which add another dynamic layer to the dramatic atmosphere. A fitting conclusion to what can only be described as an incredible soundscape of a journey full of beauty, emotion and rage.

Malphas have created a cinematic masterpiece with Portal. A sophisticated work of art continuing an immersive, genre-blending journey telling the tale of a demonic power-struggle. Symphonic, blackened melodic death metal at its absolute finest.

Rating: 9/10
Release Date: March 29th 2024
Released By: M-Theory Audio
FFO: Sodomisery, SepticFlesh, Wintersun, Dimmu Borgir, Children of Bodom

Track List

01 - The Wizard's Portal
02 - Fiat Empire
03 - Novus Ordo Seclorum
04 - Red Shield Syndicate
05 - Candle Hands
06 - Shadow and Blood on Jekyll Isle
07 - Leviathan's Moonlit Sanctum
08 - Pale Eyes to Snowy Skies    
09 - Atonement
10 - Man, Raven and the Portal

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