Review: Alkaloid – The Malkuth Grimoire

Alkaloid is the union of members from Necrophagist, Obscura, Spawn of Possession, Aborted, Dark Fortress, God Dethroned, Blotted Science and Noneuclid to create, allegedly, “the most extreme prog metal” band. I’ve already expressed my concerns about this record, but I still decided to give my money to the fund-raising campaign and finally got the fruit of my investment today in the mail. I can’t say I’m unsatisfied.

The album, considerably long, at 73 minutes, begins starkly with Carbon Phrases, which was the first song the band streamed before the album came out. It’s a rock-solid, or rather metal-solid, 9 minute progressive adventure, and it sets the tone for pretty much all the rest of the album. Technicality is extreme, but to no detriment of the song structure or “feel” of the tracks. It’s not a brainless tap-shred collage, but a real progressive metal album built with intelligence, purpose, and on the more extreme range of the spectrum. It’s dark and oppressing, and has a strong sci-fi theme in its song titles and lyrics. In this regard, it’s pretty much similar to Gigan, except the two bands approach their music in quite different ways. While Gigan is an all-on attack on your ears and brains, with fast and intricate riffs played over an even more complicated drum beat, and guitars are deep fried in effects pedals, Alkaloid delivers a more standard “extreme prog” sound, but does it delightfully so, like masters of their art. It reminds me a bit of Opeth, if they didn’t ditch death prog for pure prog and took classes from guitar virtuosos. The songs on The Malkuth Grimoire show a healthy dose of variety and dynamic range, which is too often left behind in this day and age, and it helps get the feeling of progressing through the song’s narrative. Great stuff.

And… no need to point out again that every damn member of the band has his skills leveled up to 100. Like, just listen to C-Value Enigma once it’s available to get it, and sell your guitar in a pawn shop.

Finally, Alkaloid made me chew back my words, and I’m glad to say it will definitely be one of the best albums of the year, if not the best. Get it right now, it comes out March 17.