John Malkovich! - Hyenaeh!

25 Oct 2019 - Thorsten

Post-Metal | Antigony Records | Release date: 25 Oct 2019

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Some bands are hard to get a grip on and John Malkovitch! from Italy is one of those because their post-rock-influenced instrumental metal is nothing new, admittedly, but there is something about these tracks that makes you want to listen to them again – one of the better signs for any record.

One thing that stands out is the focus on the rhythm section. A few years ago, one critic wrote that the drums are the most important instrument in post-rock as they are telling ‘the story’, which definitely holds true with some bands, for example for Pelican. John Malkovitch!, however, focus on the whole rhythm section with some parts of the songs dominated by cymbals and snares delivering the tiny movement of the dark gray clouds while the bass provides the harsh background of volcanic eruptions and the guitars showing the slowly flowing lava the way to the tropical sea. All of this and much more becomes audible in tracks like the final “La Grande Madre Gialla”, the big yellow mother.

Hyenaeh is an album that is as much Red Sparowes as it is Isis, although of course that sounds stupid given the fact that Bryant Clifford Meyer played guitar in both. John Malkovitch! is also somewhat similar to From Monument to Masses when you hear their use of vocal samples for an otherwise instrumental band albeit the samples mostly function as an added layer of instrumentation. James Plotkin mastered Hyenaeh and in some moments his input is noticeable, when you take time to work out the guitars spiraling upward accompanied by the small feedback in the middle and the drums slowing down, there are some parallels to the heavier stuff he did with OLD.

There is something strange about Hyenaeh and that is the tracklist because even though there are three different tracks in the middle of the album (surrounded by two songs of more than 10 minutes’ length) but those three basically form a third long track, with each one individually working like a chapter. And even if this may sound strange when talking about three longtracks – the Italian project really focused on their songwriting and took a big step forward from last year’s debut album The Irresistible New Cult of Selenium because the songwriting is much more focused and the songs are not left wandering off alone. Thus, this album is able to stand its ground amid all the great post-rock releases of 2019.