Swedish for “dejected”, Moloken began in 2007 as Nicklas Bäckström’s side project. However, it didn’t take long for this project to take precedent. Eight years were then met with an EP and three studio albums, allowing Moloken to decisively ingrain themselves in a progressive take on sludge metal. As their third studio album, All Is Left To See, they continue to implement a wide range of styles in the same way that has always defined their sound. For the most, the end product is a favorable one, if not too experimental for its own good.
At only 30 minutes, the eight track album is an extremely tight listen. Factor in the influences from black metal, post-rock, sludge, and hardcore and you have yourself a complex wall of sound that seems to come and go quickly. Thus, it is not an album suited for background listening. It takes focus to pick out everything Moloken is doing with this album and to avoid missing pivotal moments in this constantly evolving listen. And once you have sat down and focused in on All Is Left To See, the value of each of its moving pieces becomes more apparent.
Starting from the beginning with the opening “Subliminal Hymns”, Moloken’s weighted sludge takes priority as the galloping rhythms inhale and exhale with a consistent cadence. But that’s about as cohesive as this album gets. To that point, the fuzzy melodic leads of the title track and “Seventh Circle” provide some welcomed atmosphere, something occasionally lacking in the sludge world. Analyzing the lower layers of the sound, there is a consistent bass crunch and a hollow punch of the percussion throughout, providing a welcomed foundation as everything else wanders about. It’s the leads that deviate in form most willingly. The sludge-filled guitar rhythms return regularly, but they never shy away from melodic passages, solos, and distinctly intense lower tones from black metal influences.
All this genre blending is fine enough, but the moments of All Is Left To See that perhaps stand out most are the brief, yet prominent interludes between longer tracks. From the hauntingly droning bass lines of “I Can’t See You” to the insanity of the 74 second “Burst” to the isolated melodic tones of “Wreckage”, these ‘passing’ tracks explore more instrumental work and styles than many of the more structurally progressive songs. Despite these tracks eating up less than four minutes of the total runtime, they hold plenty of impact on the overall complexity of the album. Nestle them in between tracks that cover every corner of post-metal/sludge spectrum, ranging from three to seven minutes apiece, and you have an album that ultimately leaves a listener without definite direction.
And that is where this album loses me. As respectable as the experimentation is, All Is Left To See seems to lack a true purpose aside from simply trying a bit of everything. Each element can be appreciated on its own, but it’s when you look at the big picture that the lack of cohesion becomes frustrating. For example, All Is Left To See, for about 24 minutes, is some form of a crunchy roar of sound that challenges a listener. Sure, there are ebb and flows around varying tempos and emotions, but that dark weight introduced in the early tracks always lingers somewhere. Yet, for some reason, the last two minutes of “I Dig Deeper” and the entirety of the closing “Beginning of the End” leave all that behind and instead choose to peacefully drone their way to a feeble conclusion. It’s an anticlimactic ending given the feel of the majority of the album. I understand the point is sometimes to push boundaries in a particular genre, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the album’s personality.
Nevertheless, Moloken’s All Is Left To See is an overall enjoyable listen that will certainly capture the attention of any audience. Given how many styles are at work in this release, the shorter run time is ideal. There is limited filler and enough genre blending to allow this album to pique the interest of any metal fan. Certainly disjointed and jarring at times, Moloken makes their intentions clear and have certainly created an album their fans will enjoy for some time.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”