Today marks the release date for Prehistorical, the brutalizing second album from Spanish two-piece Melmak. Comprised of brothers Jonan and Igor Extebarria — on guitar/vocals and drums/vocals, respectively — the band offers a relatively brief onslaught throughout Prehistorical‘s seven-track/32-minute run, but that winds up being more than enough time for them to get their point across in cave-echo sludge extremity, fits of thrash groove and, on a song like “Primitive,” elements culled from black metal or at very least atmospheric death metal. That title, “Primitive,” appears relatively early on Prehistorical, right after opener “Pangea,” and since it’s also the longest cut on the follow-up to Melmak‘s 2014 debut, The Only Vision of all Gods, it makes sense that primitivism should be the overriding theme of both an apparent lyrical narrative and the duo’s raw approach itself. As the cover art for Prehistorical shows, they are not a band that shies away from the violent impulse, from the viciousness of instinct, and that’s easy to hear as they move past the Stephen Hawking sample and into the whispers and tense wash of noise that leads the way into the rumbling start of “Primitive” itself.
Maybe “narrative,” above, isn’t the right word, since I’m not sure Melmak are so much telling a specific story here are seeking to explore and represent ideas and impressions of prehistory, of the rudimentary facets and struggle of humans as animals in an animalistic world. They do this not through weaving a character through various obstacles only to find resolution — there is one resolution; we all know what it is — but through weaving themselves and the listener through the pummel of their material, here working in the mold of two-pieces like Black Cobra or Mantar, hitting into a slower pace on the noisy, feedback-drenched “The Cavern” before exploding into blastbeats and one of Prehistorical‘s most extreme stretches. What makes the album interesting, ultimately, is that while Melmak establish this sound that comes across as so focused on the nastiness of its own execution, and so harsh, the band works with more of a range than it might at first appear within that sphere. Yes, I mean they play fast and slow, and yes, I mean that Igor and Jonan swap vocal duties, and that sets up a certain level of dynamic, but even in their hardest-driving moments, the echoes on the vocals give their songs a sense of space, so that when the atmospheric centerpiece/interlude “Megalodon” comes around with its quiet piano and moody scratch, it doesn’t seem at all beyond Melmak‘s reach. Just the opposite. If anything, it bolsters the material surrounding.
And the fade-in of a somewhat militaristic snare and thicker riff on “Bonfire” speaks to Melmak having a keener ear for transitions than the sheer ferocity of some of what they do might lead one to believe. That said, “Bonfire” and the penultimate “Death Struggle” work to strip down their sound even further to some of its barest parts: the blown-out noise of the former being consumed by noise into the grueling sludge roll of the latter. Right around the 3:30 mark into “Death Struggle”‘s 4:15, they hit into a breakdown riff in classically thrashy form, and though their delivery of it is slower, the progression is unmistakable in its moving intent. The mosh part, however brief. That spirit seems to carry into closer “Aegnap” as Jonan and Igor again push into longer terrain, even daring some dual-voice vocal melody before they’re done as they lay the groundwork for the final thrust into noise that, though brief, is perhaps meant to mirror that which started the album in a similar fashion as to how the first and last titles mirror each other. In the end, Prehistorical finds Melmak striking a balance between their proposed “Primitive” sensibility and their more complex realization of it, and in part because the album is so short, it seems to entice the audience back in an attempt to better gauge where the band is actually coming from rather than run the risk of losing itself in any sort of indulgence, even that of the severity of their form.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting Melmak‘s Prehistorical for a full stream. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by more info on the release, courtesy of the band.
Recorded by Ivan Corcuera (Grabasonic Studio) on August 2016. Produced, mixed and mastered by Ivan Corcuera and Melmak. All songs written and composed by Melmak.
Artwork by Igor Mugerza.
In loving memory of Unai.
Chorus on “Aegnap” by Jony Menendez.
Formed in 2010 by the Etxebarria brothers, Melmak is a duo which combines the darkness of the doom metal with the madness of the hardcore to explain the situation of the human being and what are the possible solutions not to extinguish as we know it…Melmak, Melmak Prehistorical, Nooirax Produciones, Prehistorical, Sopelana, Spain, Unsigned bands