Philadelphia’s Malphas return with The 39th Spirit, the follow-up to their 2015 debut EP The Conjuring. The album is set to be released on October 26th 2018 on Via Nocturna.
The band commented:
“Malphas is stoked to finally unleash these ten tracks upon the world with our new partners in Via Nocturna. We’ve worked very hard on this album and couldn’t be more proud of the end result and our growth as a band. ‘The 39th Spirit’ is the story of man’s corruption by Malphas, in his quest to destroy the roots of organized religion. He forms a pact with Malphas – his life, in exchange to lead Malphas’ armies against the Church in the afterlife. But once the deed is done, by the album’s conclusion, man must face the reality of what he’s sacrificed and whether the world he’s created is actually a better place than it was before.”
There is plenty of imagination in Malphas’ new album, a melodic death metal record that utilises symphonic elements rather smartly. Noticeable immediately on the opener, Invoking the 39th Spirit. The band layer their brand of death metal groove with a real feeling of epic-ness to help sell their concept and it works well.
Take Floods (An Act of God) as an example. The choir singing and keyboards add more depth to a fairly straight-forward and pedestrian sounding metal track.
Things improve as Legions’ wicked guitar solo gets the hairs on the back of the neck standing up, You Will Lead My Armies deals in a little bit of black metal (the drum beat at the end is spectacular) and Red Constellations excites with some of the albums best riffs.
The early blandness of The 39th Spirit is well and truly gone the longer you go on and the deeper down the hole you go with Malphas. While there is still a bit of ‘see what sticks’ about it, the scope of the ten tracks can’t be faulted and when dealing with melody, such as on Visions of the Burning Darkness, they really excel.
At its heart it is steeped in death metal heaviness though so you need not worry, this is a crushingly heavy album none the less.
It culminates in a double header of Heavens Fall. The first, I: Condemnation, is layered with gothic bleakness amongst the darkened aggression that builds in a huge call to arms of wild head-banging. II: The Aftermath closes out with an initial slower beat (and the choir which is a bit over-used) before going straight for the jugular with a thrashy based rhythm. Here, the smallest thing makes the difference such as the inclusion of ringing bells. It’s a small thing but it perks the ears up.
Malphas have clearly worked their asses off here and it shows. It’s an impressive showing, one that is squeaky clean in production allowing every inch of the sound to shine. There is a hell of a lot going on in each track, so much so that the core metal sound is sometimes forgotten about. When it does shine through though, it rarely disappoints.
Malphas – The 39th Spirit Full Track Listing:
1. Invoking the 39th Spirit
2. Volcanic Winter
3. Floods (An Act of God)
5. You Will Lead My Armies
6. Red Constellations
7. Visions of the Burning Darkness
8. Spells of Destruction
9. Heavens Fall I: Condemnation
10. Heavens Fall II: The Aftermath
Malphas - The 39th Spirit (Via Nocturna)
- The Final Score - 7.5/107.5/10