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On disc: Malevolentia

Ex Oblivion - Mike Thompson - 8 stars

Ex Oblivion

Ex Oblivion
(self-released - 2010)

Malevolentia is a symphonic black metal quintet from France and 2010's Ex Oblivion is the band's second full-length release. Immediately upon receiving this CD I was struck by the amazing cover art. It has a real air of malevolence and evil and put me in mind of something like Shelob's Lair from The Lord Of The Rings or perhaps the Drow underworld from the Forgotten Realms world. Anyway, I love good artwork and this is one of the best I've seen in a while. Does the music live up to this promise?

The album opens with a foreboding keyboard intro which is really none the worse for being fairly typical of the genre, and then explodes into Serment De La Corde. From this point on the album never really lets up. The band blends black metal with film score-ish symphonic arrangements that never stray into the needlessly overblown but fit well into the dark atmosphere that Malevolentia create. Hyperspeed blasting changes seamlessly to crushing, almost doom metal segments and cacophonous insanity and results in an album that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

Whilst it is more and more common these days to find bands who find inspiration in film score music it is still little used, in my experience, in black metal. It also has a rather nasty habit of making many albums an exercise in flowery keyboard skills than in actual metal. It gives me great pleasure to report that Malevolentia have not fallen into this trap. The music within Ex Oblivion is unmistakably metal in both execution and intensity with the symphonic arrangements adding an extra dimension to the atmosphere.

The musicianship of this relatively unknown band is high and over the top of everything is front-woman Spleen's hoarse vocals which sound remarkably similar to Darkestrah's Kriegtallith. No bad thing there!

I really wish I'd discovered this band sooner. Whilst some parts of this album left me bemused, on the whole it is an excellent example of symphonic black metal done well without sounding at all like an Emperor or Dimmu Borgir clone. One of the few bands that I have listened to that has restored my faith in symphonic black metal in recent times.

8 stars

Mike Thompson


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