Malkavian – Annihilating the Shades

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label: Finisterian Dead End
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Released: 2017
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Malkavian - Annihilating the Shades

Band line-up:

Nicolas Bel – Guitars
Romaric Lamare – Vocals
Florian Pesset – Bass
Alex Jadi – Drums
Mathieu Deicke – Guitars


1. Resurgence
2. Altar of the Damned
3. Spit Away
4. Ruins
5. Annihilating the Shades
6. The Great Overset
7. Encryption Process
8. KBA
9. Void of a Thousand Eyes


Malkavian’s Annihilating the Shades is a record with a pretty straight-forward approach, but a nice little twist to its sound. It offers us nine consistently in-your-face tracks of something sitting between thrash and groove metal, with the hardcore stomp of the latter, without giving up any of the balls-out aggression of the former. Right away, I have to give them points for not just being another thrash or groove band imitating earlier bands of either style, but instead doing more their own thing, with elements of both.

The music here is almost anachronistic in how it feels like it -should- have come out sometime in the early 90s (aside from the modern production values of course). Where many thrash bands of the time slowed things down and, many would argue, diluted the punishing ferocity of their sound, Malkavian seem to be a band sticking to those thrashy guns. Despite coming so much later, this feels like a natural evolution of the way many thrash bands were going around that time. It holds onto every bit of aggression and fury, but tempers it into something with more swagger, punctuated by solid breakdowns. I’m not going to go so far as to say this is something truly unique, but it’s certainly not something you hear very often.

The album doesn’t shift things up too often, though “Ruins” does offer us a nice break, a slower tune to help pace the album. “The Great Overset” deserves mention as a highlight of the album, plunging into Meshuggah-like territory with superb, fearsome rhythms and just enough of that djent-y twang in the guitars to help solidify the oppressive feel the track is going for. Aside from that, the album pretty consistently keeps its foot down on the gas, an unyielding aural assault that puts me in mind of Byzantine’s works. “Encryption Process” erupts to instantly fill the space with so much energy, the churning riffs and blistering yet fluid drumming very reminiscent of 2015’s To Release is to Resolve, and the whole album rarely if ever bothers with anything like a conventional verse-chorus song structure.

That said, Byzantine are perhaps better at balancing the dynamics of their own brand of musical barrage. Malkavian are good at what they do, but it still feels like a bit more development could yield a more tangible final product. The in-your-face approach is rewarding and clearly exactly what the band is going for, but it can begin to wear thin a bit earlier than it should. Some more truly stand-out moments, maybe a track or two more in the “Ruins” vein to help with pacing, and these lads could really have something special. Still, the band’s sound is interesting and well-done enough to definitely warrant giving this album a spin and keeping an eye on them in future.

Review by Kieron Hayes