Maul – Seraphic Punishment

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Hailing from Fargo North Dakota USA, Redefining Darkness Records presents Maul’s first full-length album 'Seraphic Punishment', comprising 9 bludgeoning death metal tracks in the vein of the Swedish and American bands. Maul was formed in 2017 by the guitarist Anthony Lamb with the intention to expose the stream-rolling brutality of bands like Dismember, Tomb Mold, and Outer Heaven. Although it took them almost 5 years to release their first studio album, Maul released several demos, singles, one compilation and a live album before they found the optimum style.

The guitar work is fortified with HM-2 chainsaw distortion, providing a range of mid-paced tempos where the quality of the songwriting allows the songs to remain gripping. The explosive entry ‘Of Human Frailty’ emphasizes powerful riffs with thunderous drums followed by a stomping bass guitar. There are plenty of trackswhere the guitars offers hooks and the growls echo with the roar of the loud drums. Aside from the booming riffs, the album’s title track ‘Seraphic Punishment’ conveys massive riffs. Despite the viciousness and the Cookie Monster-like growls Maul knows how to infuse some hooks.

Suddenly, the drums on ‘Repulsive Intruder’ become so intense and furious. Shifting to a faster pace, Maul will immediately remind you of the heaviness of the Swedish death metal bands. There are many hooky choruses ,at times the music gets bouncy and groovy. Hammering drums and buzz-sawing riffs are brought to an aggressive mix, but dare I say that the mid-tempos are damned catchy. For instance, the filthy snarls on ‘Monarchy of Mold’ rumble through the thick heavy bass. Chock full of sick guttural growls, the excellent instrumentation conjures up sinister passages in the slower tempo. Despite the old school motifs Maul managed to maintain a slightly brutal sound:  a track like ‘Deity Demise’ mixes the slow, catchy rhythm with a menacing sense of sinister death metal.

Seraphic Punishment’ offers something that will attract both new and old school fans. The stylistic touch of the instrumentation is similar to the modern German death metal bands. The majority of the tracks on the album are mid-tempo, full of catchy choruses and heavy riffs with ever effective lead guitars. Across the duration of 37 minutes, the North Dakotan quintet ensures distinctive qualities. Even though the full length doesn’t model itself as modern old-school death metal, Maul’s songwriting builds on its distinguishable sound which reminds me of post-2000s death metal bands.

As a cohesive whole the diversity of the guitar riffs, growls and the mid tempo drums on ‘Seraphic Punishment’ brings elaborated melodic lines, providing an energetic set of songs which also include plenty of grooves and dynamics. ‘Oracular Burial Grounds’ and ‘Infatuation’, these two songs combine the dynamics of the loud riffing and the relentless drumming blows. The guitars thrive on heavy power chords. While this seems to be the main strength of the music, it seamlessly flows with an excellent drumming performance.

Despite the tempo changes, the drums are straightforward and to the point. The final track ‘Carrion Totem’ is one of the best tracks on the album. Maul’s music can be quite sinister when they move to the slower mid-paced tempo. The driven dynamism comes with memorable melodies. The guitars implement dark atmospherics to create an ambient environment and the melodic chord textures intertwine with the low guttural growls.

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 8/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 7/10
  • Mix / Production 7/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 7/10
7.4

Overall, ‘Seraphic Punishment’ sets an innovative work from the Dakotan quintet resulting in a polished album that combines elements of classic death metal with melody.

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