Sicktus : ‘Monolith Of The Malign’ is the debut album of this Swedish foursome. The band has its roots in Wombbath, when singer/bassist Jonny en guitarist Håkan decided they wanted another band. Pale King combine nineties death/doom influences and melodic death on ‘Monolith Of The Malign’ and slap an oldschool death stamp on that. Yet, somehow, they manage to sound surprisingly fresh and modern, leaning towards a somewhat industrial atmosphere, without using the musical elements from that scene. The band themselves mention Paradise Lost and Amorphis as important influences – and I indeed do hear those influences. Don’t expect an OSDM version of Amorphis/Paradise Lost though, the band use a lor more influences than “just” that. Dismember, Dissection, Hypocrisy, Morbid Angel: on ‘Monolith Of The Malign’, I hear nods to all of those bands.
These nods aren’t loose fitting bits and pieces though, they are an integral part of the melancholic, epic and at times filmic death metal jigsaw that Pale King are putting together. The band make heavy use of carrying keys. My first impression is that the keys are too much upfront in the mix, but after a couple of spins, I get used to it and recognise that the keys do give ‘Monolith Of The Malign’ an extra gloomy edge and (serving) layer.
‘Cause layered is what Pale King’s sound is. Very full and rich, with hypnotic riffs, intriguing melodies, carrying key parts, varied vocals, varied, driving drums, completed by the bass and filled with detail. This makes for a very intense and intrusive album and songs that do not show their true colours after just one spin. It does take a couple of attentive listening sessions to get to the core of ‘Monolith Of The Malign’. This is no superficial light metal, this is truly heavy stuff. But if you are prepared to put in the effort, ‘Monolith Of The Malign’ rewards you: it is like a great novel you can read again and again, discovering new things each time you commit to it and the ‘journey’ is worth it time and again. A very varied amalgam of intense, melodic nineties death/doom/black. Excellent!