MALEFICIO, Under the Black Veil (2008, Hateworks)
Under a gloriously unreadable logo flies a skull, seemingly blasted out of a cannon into the yellow glow of dawn. Or perhaps it’s an LSD-influenced vision by the same artist who conceived the band logo, the skull an illusion created by the dense cloud formation, although what this all has to do with being under a black veil is not entirely clear.
Unless somebody’s pulling our leg, this Swedish band released 18 demos between 1991 and 2004, and have experimented with their death/black/thrash metal formula by occasionally mixing in flutes and violins. So what we get on their 2008 debut full-length should be astoundingly good and focused, right? Well, it’s just kinda average. Reasonably well-executed death/black metal with some thrashy hints, reminding of the days when bands like Mayhem, Cradle of Filth and Impaled Nazarene weren’t exclusively black metal, but a hodgepodge of sub-genre intersections. What’s even more incredible is not that Maleficio have stuck with it for so long with very little reward, but the fact that they’re one of the only long-running Swedish extreme metal bands where the members aren’t also in 10 other bands. It’s kind of amazing, considering the band’s longevity, but the eight songs here are uninteresting and rather faceless, lacking any sort of individual character, just like the skull that graces the cover.