Review by Felix on January 6, 2021.
It was the mid-nineties when every self-respecting black metal musician had to at least sleep in a bed from a Scandinavian furniture store if their albums were to be taken seriously. Those days are gone. Norway is in a deplorable state, Finland has taken on a life of its own and Sweden lies somewhere in between, but far from the dominance of earlier years. So Malakhim's debut comes just in time. Admittedly, I was sceptical at first, since the release of Theion was via Iron Bonehead. Sometimes sounds come from this house that at best only partially meet my understanding of music. But lo and behold, Malakhim are not the next heralds of pure noise. They wield a fine blade. Those who like the creepy malevolence of Denouncement Pyre will quickly become friends with 'There Is a Beacon', the opener of Theion. Malakhim create a great mixture of an ominous depth and powerful metal riffs. It's not one of those stereotypical openings where the listener is immediately beaten senseless by the protagonists, only to shift down a gear afterwards. Instead, there are sublime riffs, intense tempo changes and an accusatory yet raw, powerful voice to be heard. Greatness meets meanness and the result sounds wonderful.
At best, openers have two functions. They should be among the highlights and stylistically represent the album. Both are the case here. Theion is filled to the brim with vile melodies that have mostly chosen the mid-tempo parts as their biotope. Complementing this are fast eruptions, well-dosed bursts of violence which remind everyone that you're not there to have fun. I already mentioned Denouncement Pyre and yes, somehow Malakhim have an Australian touch in their sound. The viciousness of Deströyer 666 permanently shines through and like the unfortunately long since disbanded Assaulter, the Swedes don't need the most absurd degrees of harshness to demonstrate their evil attitude. This is not least due to the production, which constantly spreads negative vibes while at the same time giving the songs a sound that is not overly clear but massive. Especially in the fast-paced passages, the mix is convincing, because there is never any mushy noise - and presumably each of us knows enough discs where the snare drum dissolves into thin air during the speed excesses. Titles like the fanatic and fantastic 'His Voiceless Whisper' or the intense 'Hammer of Satan' prove that it can be done differently.
Malakhim do not show any serious weakness. Not every song is perfect in all parts, but a surprising amount is done right here. No one has to fear a drop in quality. 'The Splendour of Stillborn Stars' blows the smell of decay into the living room just like the first tracks. The shiver of death is paired with a majestic melody and although Malakhim neither use classic song patterns nor attach too much importance to catchy or even repetitive parts, Theion finds its way into my long-term memory without detours. Or at least into its antechamber. For the rest of the day, I do nothing but listen to this record a few more times. When my eyes close, I go to bed. Fortunately, it's not a Scandinavian one.
Rating: 8.4 out of 10497