Another review, and another band I’ve yet to encounter; sometimes that can be a good thing, other times a bad one. I’m glad to say on this occasion my first listen to Mahakala falls firmly into the former, with ‘The Supreme Fall’ managing to straddle a whole bunch of metal’s sub-genres about which some fans are far too precious, and all without sounding in any way forced or discordant.
Combining the band name of a fierce Eastern deity (husband of Kali the Destroyer in some mythologies) with a cover that looks like one of Clive Barker’s early sketches for a Cenobite, the album could easily put off those who don’t like their metal too extreme, and indeed, titles like opener ‘Army of Flies’ do indeed threaten an attack of demonic screams and buzz saw guitar licks, but fortunately, at least for my tastes, that is not the case. Instead, after the initial sound effect of said insects on the wing, the track is an up tempo number that merges the theatricality of Candlemass with a solid helping of thrash sensibility, rock solid riffs and clean sustained vocals delivering a heaping helping of neck wrenching metal. ‘Redemption’ slows the pace at the start of the track, turning up the Doom factor, albeit with some power metal technicality, and it would have been easy to imagine the music hailing from Sweden rather than being delivered by this team of Athenians. ‘Purgatorium’ (Latin for Purgatory, that afterlife between heaven and hell; this 33 year old O level has some uses folks) follows, and is a number that could fit comfortably into an Iced Earth album, as could ‘Better To Reign In Heaven’, combining as they do massive chords, vocal gymnastics, thesaurus battering lyrics, and fist pumping riffs.
Next up is the shortest track on the album, the near symphonic ‘Darkness In Their Eyes’ that could happily grace a Blind Guardian release, and after this almost gentle, by comparison interlude, the heaviness starts up afresh, with the NWOBHM-esque ‘Wrath of Lucifer’, a track that surely demands that each member of the band, drummer excepted, to go to stage front, plant a foot on a monitor, and wield their instruments like machine guns to fire musical bullets at a head banging crowd, all before the two guitars trade off duelling solos in the finest Maiden tradition. This hard chugging sound continues through the remainder of the album, finishing on the suitably metallically entitled ‘War Against Mankind”, nine tracks making up the satisfyingly solid forty minutes of the album.
‘The Second Fall’ is an album well worth checking out, and should satisfy fans from a fair number of the tribes that make up the spectrum of heavy metal fans, having elements from a number of sub-genres, and clearly showing the influences that the band enjoy. Alternatively, it could just be that it doesn’t belong in any particular pigeon hole, and could just be that increasingly rare offering in this day and age of so many classifications, namely nothing but Heavy Metal with well deserved capital letters? Buy it, and work it out for yourselves folks, you should not be disappointed.