Photo: Nikkie Marie Kephart
LA-based post-grunge/space rock outfit MAL introduces their new album, Come To Light, via Black Cast Music. Written and produced by MAL, the long player was recorded at Cartwheeling Whores Records, Van Nuys, California, and mixed and mastered by Andrew Haller.
Made up of Kristopher Jung (vocals, guitar), Peter Hollywood (bass), and Brendan Reynolds (drums), MAL got together in 2012. At first, the project was simply to indulge their passion for music. They performed for fun, yet more and more gig offers came their way, so they were obliged to start taking the whole thing more seriously.
MAL’s sound is the attraction – a blend of prog-rock, space rock, hard rock, grunge, post-rock, shoegaze, and post-punk. It’s a sound that’s simultaneously melodically familiar and yet different because of its edginess.
Coming in at just over 70 minutes run time, Come To Light encompasses 19 tracks. Speaking subjectively, entry points include the opening track “Sleeper,” which merges hints of prog-rock and grunge into a darkly potent tune vaguely reminiscent of Chevelle and Filter. Reynolds’ superb drumming adds another instrument to the song, providing texture and color.
Highlighted by a low and slinky intro, “Besides” flows into ebbing and rising harmonics, going from shadows to half-shadows, all while smoldering with a mysterious, almost sleazy voluptuousness. Jung’s vocals, tight with burning passion, imbue the lyrics with delicious rasping timbres.
A personal favorite, “Ritual (Of the Sky),” an instrumental piece, drips with the slow and low surfaces of sludgy guitars. Whereas “Thumper” and “Wormsign” amalgamate flavors of gritty grunge with industrial tangs, resulting in saw-toothed, grimy tones that grind and groan with dissonant, primal textures.
Another favorite because of its Alice In Chains-like feel, “On Eye” allows Jung to strut his crème de la crème rock vocals, at once grating, wicked, and strident. Probably best described as lysergic grunge, “Madness As Lift” froths with the stark unreality of psychosis.
Following on the heels of two excellent tracks – “For Brevity” and “Cut Myself” – “Commit Me” ties the album off with grunged-out, growling guitars infused with tinctures of the dark gloom of doom. Oozing like black oil, the tune seeps with vast, primitive power.
Ooh la la! MAL definitely has it going on. Come To Light is without a doubt one of the best albums released so far this year.