Released: 2017, Soulseller Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Pale King is a band of two nations: half the members are from the UK, half from Sweden, and you really can hear these different origins here in their first release. Monolith to the Malign is an album that melds together equal parts classic Swedish death metal and a good helping of British early death-doom, and comes out with a very well-crafted package.
Atmosphere is everything here, not in a post-metal kind of way, but hammered into shape and into the listener's head with relentless, pounding riffs and rhythms. At times this really does feel like the soundtrack to an apocalypse, conjuring images like the album cover of a work crumbling and being devoured by some dark force. It's a very evocative brand of death-doom leaning heavily onto the death side, like Candlemass' evil twin brother. It has the grimness and gloomy mood of a tomb. It's refreshing to hear a band that doesn't stint on the ferocity in their music, but understands that there should be more to it than -just- that, with this rock-solid atmosphere giving the album a real focus.
The vocals are killer, fearsome without descending into self-parody, and like the rest of the music here they're fill of real conviction. There are some terrific headbanger moments (see "Inflicting Misery"), especially when those death-doom influences like early Paradise Lost or Tiamat come to the fore. Some of the darkness on show is even reminiscient of Behemoth, managing to be forceful and aggressive with just the right dash of melody, a sliver of light to better illuminate what lurks in the gloom.
Just listen to “Dark Intentions”. It starts with soft piano and string instrument effects, then erupts into pure violence. That softer sound is still there, dipping back in here and there, maintaining that consistent feeling very organically. There's a particular sound effect used in the background that gives the song a real pounding, industrial feeling, and I love it. It shows up elsewhere in the album too.
Monolith to the Malign is an album of murderous savagery backed up with good song-writing rather than just for its own sake. There are just enough brushstrokes of melody amid the musical portrait of blood splatters and funeral ashes. This is skull-crushing, soul-writhing death metal and shows a lot of future promise for a first release. Well worth checking out.