There’s a curious opening to All Is Left To See (Temple of Torturous), the third album from Swedish quartet Moloken: the initial vocal a deep breathing exercise over some Post / Sludge atmospherics. The ensuing bellow is not much louder than those harsh inhalations yet is utterly horrific, a blasting roar capable of severing limbs.
That violent yet ethereal background remains largely the album’s template, a bright yet oppressive swell which is given a more sparing yet just as effective Morricone-style jangle in its title track: a throttled, emphysemic delivery waiting for the drums and hissing riffs to join in. There is a real sinister edge here, and no little intrigue due to the creative structures and nature of the sound. When Jakob Burstedt’s drums do fly in it’s with a blistering ferocity and perfect timing, the less fraught passages building their entry expertly.
There is, however, a lack of weight which is partly due to those riffs often being sunk low in the mix: something that a blend of hostility and heart-plucking solemnity largely masks but doesn’t wholly obliterate. The brief running time of just under half an hour is another minor drawback, with three tracks coming in under the two-minute mark and robbing this album’s expected audience of something to get their teeth into; despite the gorgeous, delicate chiming bells of the paradoxically-titled ‘Wreckage’. The coruscating post-hardcore of ‘Seventh Circle’ is the kind of elongated, brutal yet inventive melancholy that this album should have seen more of; its plunking bass reaching into the soul with each pluck of the strings, its building intensity utterly chilling. The rhythm section is the high point of the enigmatic ‘I Dig Deeper’, Burstedt’s magnificent stickwork and Niklas Bӓckstrӧm’s plummeting basslines driving into an oscillating ambience.
It takes a while but, ultimately, All is Left to See is a testament to this unshackled outfit who let their creative juices flow freely, not least through the harrowing cello of the tragic and hair-raising closer ‘Beginning of the End’, to create a highly listenable if occasionally infuriating set. Here, more would indeed have been more.