- 17 Apr 19
Having just unleashed their blistering debut Across Deaths, Irish extreme metal maestros Malthusian sit down to discuss coruscating riffs, creative ambitions, and the thriving – or should that be decaying – nature of the homegrown scene.
Unleashing forty minutes of chaos and depravity, Malthusian’s debut album Across Deaths is an eviscerating listen. Blending death and black metal with doom, the Dublin four-piece have injected something unique into the Irish underground scene.
“We write songs that we enjoy ourselves, because otherwise, we wouldn't be bothered,” says Malthusian’s guitarist and vocalist AC. “After a day’s work, I’m not arsed standing in a shed in the middle of December, freezing my ass off and writing music I’m not interested in. The same goes for the other lads – we just wouldn’t fucking do it.”
Malthusian’s music is notable for its skull-shattering intensity. ‘Remnant Fauna’, for example, features a barrage of riffs and searing vocals.
“Sometimes we play against each other,” notes guitarist MB. “AC will play a different riff, which creates this chaotic rhythm. Through this we’ve found our own chemistry.”
I posit to the band that there’s a certain effortless feel to the music, although this is dismissed by AC.
“With the new album, we had more time,” he explains. “We were meticulous with being more in sync with each other, so there's less overlaying of wonky riffs. It was more focused. You were saying it was effortless – well it fuckin’ wasn’t effortless trying to write the thing, because we're meticulous and we're never satisfied.”
Across Deaths also features subtle atmospheric fiddle and viola instrumentation, performed by Cossie of Dublin folk group Lankum. A long-time friend of Malthusian, his contributions accentuated the band’s “seasick dementia”.
“We gave Cossie carte blanche to do what he wanted,” says MB. “We knew he was a fan of the band and an exceptional musician. He came out to Hellfire Studios with a few ideas, and gave us all some respite from the insanity of recording.”
Ireland’s underground scene is small and filled with bands playing various sub-genres of doom, and what could be considered to some ‘middle of the road’ death metal. Still, AC is enthusiastic in his assessment of Irish metal.
“I think it’s really good at the moment,” he says. “I mean, it’s always small. A lot of the bands are really good technically, and run rings around us on that front, but in terms of what we want to hear – it’s not hitting the mark. It’s more about technicality and brutality than creating a certain atmosphere.”
Although they might be sceptical about certain aspects of the Irish scene, the boys nonetheless proclaim themselves fans of several homegrown acts, including Vircolac, Coscradh and Zealot Cult.
“There’s loads of stuff,” says MB. “Because Ireland is so small, you never get a load of bands sounding the same. Everyone’s doing something more individual.”
Malthusian say that in developing their visceral sound, they didn’t look to what was happening locally. Nonetheless, they do acknowledge that drummer JK’s previous band, Abaddon Incarnate, was a major influence.
“Abaddon's first two albums are probably the closest thing to the madness,” says MB. “We’ve come close to capturing that insanity, but it’s difficult.”
In terms of the metal taxonomy, Malthusian feel bands put too much emphasis on categorisation.
“They spend too much too time putting themselves in these categories,” suggests MB. “We have a lot of faith in what we listen to – they styles we listen to are weird, which obviously adds to the unhinged nature of our music. But I have confidence in our material; we know what we release will be spot on.”
Commercial success is often viewed with some suspicion in underground metal; mainstream acceptance is associated with being a sell-out. In the more extreme factions, artistic excellence and commercial popularity are seen as mutually exclusive.
“I never care about that,” shrugs AC. “I think if a band is good, they’re good and if they’re shit, they’re shit. Pallbearer for example came out of the doom scene – they’re an underground band. Their new stuff is catchy and slow, doomy kind of stuff, maybe not as slow as it was. You can say ‘Oh, they sold out and it’s not as this, that or the other’, but it’s fucking good! I don’t care.”
MB agrees: “Mastodon too. Everyone has a pop at them.”
Fortunately, Malthusian have a great degree of autonomy thanks to their relationship with Irish label Invictus Productions.
“We’ve never once had to justify what we’re doing,” says AC. “We’ll send Darragh (O’Laoghaire, owner of Invictus Productions) rehearsal songs and he’ll be totally into it. He just lets us do whatever we want. With the artwork, we tell him what we’ve going on and he’s like, ‘Yeah, cool.’ He trusts us.”
Offers from other labels overseas have come their way, but Malthusian are happy where they are.
“We knew straight away not to go for them,” says MB. “It was flattering, but wasn’t really for us.”
AC agrees, citing aversion to the concept of dealing with a ‘middle man’.
“We currently have a relationship where we’re all on the same wavelength,” he says. “If you sign with a big label, you just don’t know. We get nice offers of gigs, tours, and festivals as it is - plus we’re all working anyway. Are we going to give up our jobs and go to try make Malthusian the next big thing?”
While they’ve already played a number of European metal festivals, Malthusian would be open to performing at more.
“All of those European Festivals cater for metal, even Primavera,” says MB. “Watain played that this year. You could have Kendrick Lamar playing and then you’ve Watain on a different stage. It’s catering to everyone; Ireland’s obviously more closed-minded. But yeah, we’d play any of these festivals if they offered.”
Malthusian play The Grand Social, Dublin on April 17 with New Zealand extreme outfit Ulcerate. Across Deaths is available now from Invictus Productions in Europe and Dark Descent Records in the US.