Vulture Industries – The Malefactor’s Bloody Register

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label: Dark Essence Records
Released: 2021
Buy Album [URL]: https://darkessencerecords.no/shop/
Band Website: http://www.vulture-industries.net/

Band Line-up:

Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen – vocals and keys
Eivind Huse – guitars and vocals
Øyvind Madsen – guitars
Kyrre Teigen – bass and vocals
Tor Helge Gjengedal – drums

Tracklisting:

01. Crooks and Sinners
02. Race for the Gallows
03. The Bolted Door
04. Of Branded Blood
05. I Hung My Heart On Harrow Square
06. This Cursed Flesh
07. The Hangman’s Hatch
08. Crowning the Cycle

Review:

To celebrate the eleventh anniversary of the second album from  Vulture Industries, The Malefactor’s Bloody Register has received a makeover and will for the first time be available on vinyl from March 5th, 2021. Re-mixed, de-mixed, remastered and unmastered, this release has been in the making for some time. Intent on an impeccable vinyl presentation, the band originally set out to re-mix the album, however, these good intentions turned rotten as the new master sounded worse than the original. So, two steps back, press reset, the original master was tweaked for vinyl, and Vulture Industries are delighted with the final result.

The extreme metal band, hailing from Norway, have refined their unique sound over four full-length studio albums; the most recent being Stranger Times, released in 2017, and the band’s style of extreme metal meshed with elements of prog and doom elevate their work above being just another extreme metal group and into something more exciting.

The cover art for The Malefactor’s Bloody Register is designed by Maja Markegård and features Helge Jordal on the cover, making it the second time that the actor appears on a Vulture Industries release. One of Norway’s most respected character actors, Jordal’s collaboration with Vulture Industries started when he heard The Dystopia Journals (the band’s first full-length studio album from 2007) and agreed to work with the band. This time he takes on the guise of the Hangman, brandishing a law book and clutching a noose, in an album that takes a satirical look at the theme of crime and punishment from the perspective of both the criminal and the hangman.

The opening piece ‘Crooks and Sinners’ acts as a short introduction; a brief yet tantalising appetizer dripping in a circus-freakshow vibe. It’s a perfectly spooky sounding start to an album that sets up an interesting main course. ‘Race for the Gallows’ kicks things off proper with a black metal style brutal beginning section, complete with harsh screamed vocals and a flair for the dramatic all around. Heavy keyboard parts flesh out the music while the drums and bass intertwine to create a lush soundscape for the doomed and insane.

‘The Bolted Door’ reminds me of early Opeth, with lengthy technical passages and mountainous riffs working in unison to create intricate and melodic sections in what could be my favourite track on the record. The dynamic and technical ability on display here is astounding. This dynamic once again rears its head on the excellent ‘Of Branded Blood,’ the longest song on the record at just over seven minutes.

‘I Hung My Heart On Harrow Square’ doubles down on the Opeth sound but also incorporates the band’s newer style for a glorious combination of prog-metal and proto-doom; making use of picked chord passages and thick swashes of keyboard stabs and melodic passages that will ring through your head for days to come. ‘This Cursed Flesh’ leans into the doom metal sound heavily, borrowing from bands such as Black Sabbath and Sleep but using those influences to create something that is entirely unique to Vulture Industries.

One weak point for me would have to be ‘The Hangman’s Hatch,’ as the chord changes during the introduction can be jarring and the track isn’t quite as good or as interesting as the rest on the album. ‘Crowning the Cycle’ continues the proto-doom prog stylings in an epic closing track that is a definite highlight on the record. It feels like the band are firing on all cylinders here as an awe-inspiring solo bursts out of the song and carries the song, and album, to an explosive finale atop powerful drums and heavy distorted riffs.

The Malefactor’s Bloody Register is not an album I would listen to a lot personally, but what Vulture Industries have here is something truly special. It’s a challenging record, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Parts of it can be a little difficult to fully digest and will most likely take repeated listening. Existing fans of the group will likely have already listened to this particular album, but its first vinyl outing is a must-have for any collectors out there. It has inspired me to check out their back catalogue, and I’ll be looking forward to a new album.

Review by Jack Merry
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