After five years of silence Italian modern rockers Maledia have returned with their third full-length album Phobia, developing the musical ideas that they started on the previous record Human Trash Deluxe. In collaboration with Sliptrick Records, Phobia ignites the alternative scene with traditional veneration and catchy rusticity.
Maledia isn’t a new band, their historical path started at the beginning of the new millennium, and it means that they have a solid experience and plenty of musical ideas. Their early musical route was directed towards symphonic gothic conception, but the last two records marked a decisive shift on the way to modern sound. So now Maledia offers us to enter the murky waters of alternative music – from melodic metalcore to soft rock sprinkled with synthetic elements. Not uncommon by the way, there are enough sympho gothic metal bands (like Lacuna Coil or Within Temptation) that broke their ties with power metal’s pompousness, paving the way to the alternative realm of open-minded simplicity and the tons of possibilities of this enormous genre. Sometimes these changes are like a breath of fresh air for this stagnant and pathetically epic style, but sometimes it’s just an indication of a creative burnout. But what position did Maledia take? Did the change of style improve their creativity or is it a hint for their decline?
Actually, the gothic era of Maledia was pretty nice; they skillfully united the tragic and melancholic canvas of gothic serenity with traditional tricks of symphonic side – beautiful academic voice of their former singer Luana, classical elements and glorified dignity of epicness, as well as power/heavy metal’s rhythmical patterns. Now we can forget about eternal veil of dramatic whisper and move away from ceremonial shadow of classical music’s principles. There’s a sense that these Italian rockers took off the suffocating weight of symphonic strictness and with this new light-headed liberty managed to express themselves in a most natural way. Phobia is a soft record without any trace of cumbersome conformity; it’s almost pop-oriented (but do not perceive it as mainstream). It appears that the guys from the city of Rome have just woken up and realized that all restrictions and rules are just illusions of self-deception, and every door is open to them.
There isn’t a single thread that connects Phobia with heroic pathos of sympho gothic music à la Nightwish; this album is much closer to simple language of Disturbed. But here are also constant synthetic lines against the background, firmly demonstrating an industrial influence. The melodies are plain but catchy, a little bit hackneyed but emotionally mature. Melodic death and metalcore sometimes steal the show, also granting an extra dose of severity (“Eyes Collision” or “Feel It”). When Maledia veers between the alt. rock’s modern points, it’s like a safe territory without experimental diversions or non-standard dangers, even providing with some kind of nostalgic poignancy. Even the romantic aura of the first composition “Wrong Way” and balladish fragility of “Ready” perfectly fits into general conception of Phobia. Only industrial parts brighten up the mawkish genuineness and modern perfection, sometimes creating deliberate heaviness (“Ready”), and sometimes turning the plot into the domain of dance unpretentiousness (“Reborn”). But by and large, Phobia follows the unwritten laws of casual catchiness that is perilously close to pop rock. But no, Maledia don’t mess around with the commercial sphere, preferring to be free and spontaneous within their creative world.
We can confirm without a twinge of conscience that Phobia have opened a new chapter in the career for Maledia, leaving behind the blind worship of traditionalism and also overcoming the fear of experiments with the light side of the music (but still lingering within darkness). Their minds are still focused on disturbing and apocalyptic topics that are so notable through the lyrics and even the cartoonish artwork, full of horrors and indecisiveness. And above all, we still can say that with this kind of elaborate dedication and harmonious balance between the light and the dark (and pop vs. metal), this album offers holistic and gracefully mature material.
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