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Malsten “The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill—Rites of Passage” Album Review by Curtis J. Dupree

Malsten band

Swedish horror-doom band, Malsten, has returned to the metal scene with their second album. From the press release, we read that Malsten was “Formed in 2018 with the purpose of creating conceptually driven slow and heavy doom music.” It’s hard to think of a more apropros description of the music that is awaiting the listener of The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill—Rites of Passage

Musically, Malsten walks a fine line between atmospheric and riff-driven doom. They manage to walk this line quite well. The atmosphere of the album is quite thick, and really lends to the horror feel the band was going for. Nevertheless, there are some choice heavy riffs present throughout the album that keep it from becoming monotonous or background noise. Instrumentally, all the musicians perform their parts well, and the vocals fit the music. The production is natural and thankfully not sterile. 

The album goes for a horror story approach. To quote the press release once again: “The folk horror-themed story revolves around an unfortunate soul succumbing to an ancient evil residing in a derelict mill.” While I myself enjoy horror stories, I do not think that following the storyline is necessary for enjoying the music, as Malsten manages to keep the focus where it should be—on the songwriting. 

The album begins with “Path of the Nix,” which opens with a haunting string section. The song then comes in heavy with a very fuzzy guitar sound—perfect for doom metal. The main riff of this song is flat out great. The vocal melody is both compelling and haunting. The chorus is strong and there are several other good riffs found throughout the song’s nearly 10-minute runtime. The bridge features some great bass work. The song gets more rhythmically forceful without ever losing the riffs before it fades out to strings. 

Larum,” the first single from the album, is up next. This song begins with drums before the guitars come crashing in with simple riffing. We then get a droning part laid overtop the riffs, which works well for the atmosphere. The song goes into another simple, but effective riff, before going to bass, drums, and vocals. Ultimately the song relies a bit more on dissonant chording than on riffs. The vocal lines are solid. 

A brief interlude by the name of “Intercession” follows and we are treated to a very creepy organ part. The second half of the track is essentially a sung prayer. 

Terra Inferna” sports a trippy bass line that is then joined by guitar. Next, some subtle percussion comes in, almost giving the song an exotic feel. The song builds very gradually, but eventually crashes into the listener. About halfway through the eight and a half minute tune the vocals come in and we are treated to some well-done vocal lines. I particularly like when this song briefly kicks up in intensity near the end. 

Ceremony” is a brief interlude, featuring eerie, but lovely piano, and haunting vocals. 

The album concludes with “Laurenti Berth.” We get some nice, clean guitar work in the beginning of the song. I also particularly like the drum part when it kicks in. We’re treated to some subtle, but heavy guitar, excellent and haunting vocal lines, and a great chorus. Around the 7 minute mark is a simple, but effective riff. 

As mentioned above, one of the best features of Malsten’s work is how they blend riff-driven with atmospheric doom metal. Those whose tastes lean one way or the other should check out this album either way. The album maintains the haunting feel the band is going for and is a worthy addition to the already impressive list of 2024 metal releases. 

Curtis’ rating: 8/10

The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill – Rites of Passage (LP/CD pre-order)
https://www.svartrecords.com/en/product/malsten-the-haunting-of-silvakra-mill-rites-of-passage/11959

Malsten album

Tracklist:

Path of the Nix 9:38
Larum 10:20
Intercession 1:35
Terra Inferna 8:34
Ceremony 1:34
Laurenti Berth 10:56

https://www.facebook.com/Malstendoom

https://www.instagram.com/malstenband/

https://malsten.bandcamp.com/track/entracte

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