Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Phratry Week: Mala In Se

July 17, 2011

I’m going from loudest to softest during Phratry Week, so Mala In Se‘s self-titled release is the clear and easy choice for starting point.

The phrase means “wrongs in themselves,” “acts morally wrong,” and/or “offenses against conscience.” I immediately thought that the brutal thrash/noise/post-hardcore songs were the offenses, but it instead refers to animal cruelty and governmental excesses. I picked that up from the press release and song titles (“Time Lapse Photography of Decomposing Animals,” “Disease Auction,” “Lie On,” “Devil’s Dung”), because I’ve never been adept at picking up screamed/shrieked lyrics.

Lyrics aside, the songwriting is incredible. In the 3:46 of opener “Time Lapse Photography,” the band rips through thrash, hardcore, punk, post-hardcore and doom, never landing in one place for longer than thirty second. I’m a big fan of the punk section at 2:45-2:59.

“Devil’s Dung” has a supremely mathy opening section that drops into an eerie single-note guitar section (indie rock? what?), proving that this band can do more than just hammer out various loud genres. Then they throw in some Asian themes around 4:30, in a surprising and fascinating move. The band deconstructs the idea of genre to achieve the desired effect of totally blowing the minds of those who usually listen to heavy music. These guys are composers.

Mala In Se is an achievement that should not be overlooked by fans of heavy music.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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