Vox in Excelso - Concrete Web

Cover Vox In Excelso500.jpgConcrete Web (BE)

For quite some time Malmort, hailing from the Rhône-Alpes region in the East of France, are terrorizing the scene, but Vox In Excelso actually is the band’s first full length release despite about a decade of existence. Hass Weg Productions did send me over this 2012-release, as well as 2014’s Excerpta Funebris, so I will review both of them, of course. But let’s first start with this one, Vox In Excelso, which was initially released on January 1st 2012 (the programming on this part of this webzine stinks, so the date above isn’t the right one; the true date indeed is: 01/01/2012).

Anyway, after some demonstrational / promotional material, and a split with Greece’s master-duo SAD, Malmort did record their debut full length album in September 2011 at the La Grôlle Studio, with mixing and mastering duties done by Lergès Cédric at the La Forge Studio. The result is an eight-track album, which lasts for almost fifty minutes. The concept, build around Latin titles, is based on the tragic hunt for the Templar Knights as commanded by pope Clement the 5th, but since this isn’t a historical webzine, I’d like to ask you to go deeper into the subject via the net-thing, you know…

A great introduction, the first excerpt for opening track xiii October Mcccvii, shows a first glimpse of the mystic and mysterious identity on Vox In Excelso. Harmonious multi-layered chants, almost divine and empowered by the sound of wind at the background, open the gates to this experience, and after a short addition of church bells, an haunting guitar lead and then a hypnotic tremolo riff are introducing the raison d’être of this trio. Indeed, after two minutes and a half, traditional and rhythmic / melodic Black Metal takes over the integrity of the first moments. This is a pure expression of the glorious early nineties’ era, yet still maintaining a certain mysticism in execution and atmosphere. Okay, the essence is based on the scenes from Sweden and Norway especially, from two and a half decades ago. Especially the riffing, the melodies, the structures and even the vocal timbre betray this French band’s appreciation for the glory of the North. To give you an example: De Laude Novae Militiae or Roi De Marbre, which breathe nothing but tradition, but played with such grandeur. No, do not search for any form of modernism or originality, for you will find none. Yet imagine the huge qualitative song writing and the sublime subtlety of paying tribute to the initial Second Wave trend, but far away from doing this out from a cheap copycat attitude. Malmort sort of try to create an own identity, despite taking its inspiration within the aforementioned scene. With pieces like Templi Secretum, for example, Reicheran (vocals), Dalgrin (strings) and Oldar (drums) sort of reinterpret the majestic inspirational elegance of acts like Darkthrone or Satyricon (up to their Mother North-era, not the (disappointing) things that happened as from then on) with a touch of own-faced craftsmanship. I do appreciate the fine equilibrium in between the melodic structures and the often rhythmically-pronounced excerpts. In both cases this trio maintains a certain persuasion, avoiding dullness at the one hand, and predictability at the other. Moreover, Malmort perform with a certain catchiness, which facilitates the digestion of this stuff, but I warn you: don’t expect easy to swallow, pre-chewed convenience either, for there lies a hidden complexity behind the, at first sight, accessible constructions.

Of course I cannot enclose this review without writing something about the sound quality. As you might expect (if not, you’re not on the right place), it is very decently done, with maintaining a certain roughness when talking about the production, but at the same time the mix is so perfectly level-headed; I mean that all details (lead and rhythm guitars, drums and percussions, vocals and bass lines) have a head role going on. Imagine the rawness of the legendary Grieghallen sound transformed into a 21st-century professionalism.

Oh yes, despite the titles being in Latin especially, and partly in French, the lyrics are in English.

Highly recommended to fans of Darkthrone (mind the comparable energy or the same-minded Black’n’Roll performance [cf. a piece like Regni At Funereus Successiones]), Tsjuder, Morkesagn, Taake and the likes…

Ivan Tibos.
80/100