First, an apology is due. When the self-declared "four grumpy old men" of Swedish doom outfit Malsten got in touch this summer with news of "Torsion," their (fantastic) debut single, I had every intention of spreading the good news. Alas, I did not, and here we are, 6-odd months later, still spinning "Torsion" with the kind of regularity that is frankly remarkable given Malsten's lack of, y'know, a discography. Time for a review, methinks.
"Torsion" is a hefty 10 minutes in length, but, like the best amongst their doomy brethren, Malsten use that time to great effect. The result is a well-constructed track that builds upon itself without every giving into the genre's quicksand--namely, oppressive heavy-lidded dullness. In short: no small task.
Beginning with effect-laden gloomy atmosphere and a fuzzy funereal plod, this is the kind of music that recalls foggy moors and ill-kept pastoral burial grounds. Dark, morose, and increasingly heavy-handed, the simplistic guitar groans and grows into a lumbering beast of a riff. And then the vocals: instantaneously recognizable as upholding the standard of melancholic and methodical Swedish doom. Each syllable lands with deliberate heft, and, through the meat of the track, the instrumentation leans more into the gothic atmosphere than the hard-hitting doom riffage. It's a smart choice, and the track is allowed a little flexibility that would have undoubtedly felt forced otherwise. A chanted passage and a hard-hitting outro into fuzz close the track out with understated grace.
"Torsion" leaves behind the general satisfaction of having witnessed a job well done, and in an era of doom bands a'plenty, that, dear reader, is more than enough to entice this haggard scribe. I'm hoping Malsten are cooking up some more doom and gloom--maybe next time around, I'll actually write a review in short order. In the meantime, however, I highly recommend you take "Torsion" for a spin or three.
Malsten - Torsion was released May 2019
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.