Malady — Atmospheric Groove Mastery
Label: Svart Records
Release Date: December 21, 2021
When it comes to the sonic experience, I want cohesive creativity, groove that doesn’t sacrifice said creativity, and I rarely want to be able to expect what’s coming next. I also want to be projected away from my current reality and into the minds of the creators. These elements are among the biggest reasons I enjoy Progressive music, be it rock, metal, or even jazz.
Back in 2018 I was working for an online radio station called Metal Nation Radio. It was through this connection that I somehow, and don’t ask me how, got connected with a Finnish label called Svart Records. At that time they had sent me an early release from a Finnish band called Malady.
Malady had begun with a bit more of an alternative rock feel, but their newest release (at that time) took their music to a new direction. Toinen Toista (roughly translated in English to be One Another) grabbed my attention from the opening notes. It was prog-rock gold complete with such a calming and comfortable atmosphere, and I listened to it countless times since its release. While it was not “metal” enough to play on Metal Nation Radio, it became a favorite in my personal library.
In late September of 2021, Svart Records sent me Malady’s newest album slotted for release in December. I can’t convey the excitement I felt when I discovered that email in my inbox. I was feeling relatively stagnant with my music library and in desperate need of something fresh and new. A new release from Malady was just what the sonic doctor ordered.
I quickly downloaded the album and began my multitude of listens. I now feel ready to convey my thoughts and feelings on the album.
Ainavihantaa (Always Evil) is comprised of six songs that carry the listener through a groove orientated, well balanced journey of great musicianship. Nothing is overdone or lacking. The dynamics of each song present an atmosphere of sonic splendor.
Kicking it off with a synthesized opening that resembles that of intense underwater sonar just before hitting you with a near doom-metal sounding syncopated riff section. Keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and sax ring this album into fruition before the bass rides alone with a hypnotic and repetitive line, soon joined by the drums and band. It’s an odd time signature and I love it!
Track one, “Alava Varaa” (Low Danger) contains everything that I loved from the previous album with the addition of a saxophone. I mean, c’mon! You can’t go wrong with a saxophone! So right off the get go we’ve got a winner.
“Vapaa ja Autio” (Free and Deserted) comes up next. After the intro, the sax sings a beautiful tune ripe with emotion. This track is entirely instrumental with the sax, guitar and keyboards taking turns as the lead. Around the four and a half minute mark we’re hit with another syncopated riff that forces me to bop my head. Again, the groove! So ever-present in Malady’s music. Similar to the fusion bands of the early 70’s, there’s no denying the jazz influences on this album.
“Sisavesian Rannat” (Inland Waters) brings a rockier feel in the intro section with more of the syncopated riffage. Soon after the keyboards bring a harmonic melody accompanied by some excellent bass work. The guitar elements in this tune are a bit dirtier, reminding us of Malady’s place in prog-ROCK. By midway this tune changes intensity and drops to a light, atmospheric feel as the vocals enter.
One of the problems associated with falling in love with a band that sings in a language I don’t, is that I have not clue what the lyrics are about. Despite that literal language barrier, it does not impede my enjoyment of the music and overall product presented by the band as a whole. While I don’t consider this art-rock, I do consider it a piece of art.
“Dyadi” comes up next, which is Guajarati for Kind. The drum and bass groove in this tune are so tight you be lucky to fit a piece of paper between them. This song was the album’s single that, according to the Svart Records online profile of the band, came out in June of 2021.
“Dyadi” definitely has more of a ‘single’ feel than any other song on the album. The vocals are more prominent despite not having the typical, verse chorus verse structure. It’s a great demonstration of the instrumentation of each band member and could easily fit into a Jazz-rock category.
“Havaan Vari” is also Gujarati and means The Wind. This is the shortest song on the album and has another very tight drum and bass groove. This tune has an overt jazz feeling to it and is yet another instrumental. There is some great back and forth between the guitar and saxophone in a pseudo call and answer fashion.
“Ainavihantaa”, the title and final track of the album is Finnish for “Always Evil.” While I can’t honestly say I feel the ‘evil’ on this album, it undoubtedly maintains a darkness, a beautiful darkness to be clear. Without truly understanding the lyrics, I may be missing out on the presence of evil. Yet that takes nothing away from my overall enjoyment of the tracks.
“Ainavihantaa” flows through verses and instrumentation to a climax reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s epic Atom Heart Mother Suite. Prog-rock gold!
As you can tell from this review, I am completely a fan of this band, and this release. It leaves me longing for their next sonic adventure. Until then, I will continue to bask in the glory of Toinen Toista and Ainavihantaa.
Please note, all translations from Finnish and Gujarati acquired from Google Translate.