The Empty Frame

Written by: TL on 25/02/2012 19:42:12

It's Saturday evening and in about an hour I'm jumping the train to town to check out the release party for Danish melodic metal outfit Malrun's second album "The Empty Frame". The party is a week early, as the album doesn't come out till March 5th, but seeing as I took interest in Malrun back on their promising and very tightly written 2010 album "Beauty In Chaos", I've kindly been allowed to check out the follow up ahead of its release, and given that opportunity, I think it's only fair that I share my findings with you who are waiting to find out what it's like.

If you've never heard of Malrun however, I don't think it would be unkind of me to describe them as Denmark's own personal Killswitch Engage. Except for the fact that Malrun occasionally lean over into the slightly softer lands of hard-rock, they are highly similar to the American metalcore giants, both in the way their music involves equal measures of weight and melody and is very tight and chorus-centric, and also in the way they take advantage of having a clean singer that has a remarkable set of pipes on him.

Some good things about Malrun are the same on "The Empty Frame" as they were on "Beauty In Chaos"; Basically, if a song doesn't involve a solid riff and a catchy chorus, there's extremely poor odds of finding it on a Malrun album. The band is shameless in its utilisation of conventional song structure and it works in their favour more often than not. Moreover, "The Empty Frame" shows how they can turn their melodies in different directions, offering a hint of variety that I didn't see much of on "Beauty In Chaos". Songs like opening duo "Shadowborn" and "Moving Into Fear" are hence quintessential, punch/melody-fusion Malrun tracks, while another like "Sink Forever Down" boasts an uplifting, anthemic refrain that could likely do fairly well on more mainstream rock radio and reminds me a bit of the melodrama of Exit Ten. The band even finds time to get proper sinister on surprisingly - yet deliciously - heavier offerings "Iron March" and "Yoke Of Stone".

Despite these hints of diversity however, the band still struggles with its old enemy - predictability - over the course of the relatively lengthy thirteen tracks.. At least it must feel this way to me, seeing as I feel thirteen tracks are lengthy. Despite glimpses of variety, Malrun seem to operate very consistently at one particular level of integrity, and when the hooks aren't at their absolute strongest, it's quite possible for your attention to go wandering. Then there are songs like "Strip Show Of An Angel" and "Bloody Mary", which seem a bit hamfisted, even for an unapologetic hardrock act, with especially the latter sounding like it could almost be on the soundtrack to WWE (something which is pretty much the death of all musical integrity). Knowing how good of a singer frontman Jacob Løbner is, I'm also not sure I'm a fan of the tint of production on his voice, but then, I suppose this may be a necessary evil for any man to sound truly powerful amidst the constant rumbling of heavy metal instrumentation?

Overall, I think it should be clear to most who listen to "The Empty Frame", that Malrun still have some cosmetic flaws, and some areas where there is room for improvement, but when that's been mentioned, one must inevitably return to appreciating the expertise these guys show when it comes to putting songs together that are solid, dynamic and catchy. Obviously they don't make sound for avant-gardists or fans of the more extreme varieties of metal, but if you're a more casual metal/hard-rock enthusiast, who enjoys an equal balance of macho power and thrilling melody, then Malrun should cater perfectly to your taste, on this album as well as their last one.


Download: Shadowborn, Moving Into Fear, Sink Forever Down
For The Fans Of: Killswitch Engage, In Flames, Disturbed, Alter Bridge, Exit Ten

Release Date 05.03.2012
Target / Mighty Music

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