Hasard – Malivore Review

AMG.com has had mixed feelings about the musical work of ‘Hazard,’ the enigmatic songwriter behind Les Chants du Hasard. Claiming fatigue from this project following its most recent album, Hazard returns in 2023 with something that’s just as experimental but much heavier. Hasard principally extracts the black metal and secondarily extracts the orchestrations from its progenitor’s sound, carefully examining what remains in uncomfortable detail and manipulating it into deformed shapes. Malivore is the first release under this title and it’s a beautifully nightmarish experience.

Transcribing the terrifying presence that is Hasard into words is a difficult task. The music primarily draws from black metal but this is crunched with classical instrumentation into a dissonant mass and then spread over asphyxiating songs which run over 8 minutes. A pithy simile might be that it’s like a discordant Aquilus, as influenced by Blut Aus Nord in a particularly upsetting mood. Malivore is a testament to Hazard’s warped vision, with his hand behind everything except the piano. His wretched gurgles pierce a bedlam that intermittently comprises screeching guitar lines, arhythmic drumming, ominous synth rumbling, and erratic orchestral counter-melodies. This engenders an inhuman sound that’s hard to enjoy. But the inaccessibility of Malivore belies its great success. I may not be happy but I’m nonetheless transfixed. The plus-sized opener called “Hypnocentrisme” is, I imagine, like observing someone undergoing a mental breakdown; sad, alienating but morbidly fascinating. Its 11:32 duration passes instantaneously.

It’s overly simplistic to say that each song has just one classical instrument to distinguish them apart, but each has stand-out moments which orient around particular instruments. Just as the hostility approaches disheartening, a new melody or tempo led by something orchestral refreshes Malivore’s sound just enough. For example, “Vicivers” crescendos with bolder, climactic horns towards its finale. These coerce the maelstrom of wheeling drums and crashing guitars into a track that ultimately reaches a satisfactory conclusion. The title track showcases dynamism through a lilting passage which gives way to a particularly grand and intense segment gilded by clearer string melodies and pained shrieks. Meanwhile, “Choral Inane” progresses from bassy synths to dramatic piano scales ascending and descending through the madness. The drama returns for the song’s back half, building layers of counter-pointing melodies.

Despite its shining instrumentation, Hasard is less about moment-to-moment thrills and more about its atmospheric and emotive impact. Deconstructing Malivore for review was challenging because, short of the highlighted orchestrations, it’s initially difficult to identify where a passage extracted in isolation would fit across the album’s 45 minutes. It’s not easy listening music with tracks clearly distinguished by vocal or guitar hooks. And aside from the temperamental transitions where the blast beats and searing guitars may momentarily cut back, there are only a couple of proper breathers across the record. The first and best of these is towards the end of “Hypnocentrisme,” where the drums and riffs are supplanted by guitar whining, rumbling synths, and samples of flickering flames. Gradually, hoarse roars mixed with an ominous cello finish the unsettling scene. Malivore might have benefitted from more of these protracted pauses; those present are no less disturbing than the heaviest passages but do at least offer the necessary dynamism for the songs to justify their length. By the final track, I feel some fatigue from the unrelenting music and brickwalled master.

Don’t let these quibbles dissuade you from experiencing Hasard. Malivore’s effect is profound, and its quality undeniable. It’s an amorphous labyrinth that eschews any semblance of traditional songwriting, carrying discordant counter-melodies through grinding, piercing, haunting instrumentation. It’s utterly engrossing despite these alienating qualities, removing you from whatever mundane activity or thought was boring you before hitting play. Malivore is both a disturbed and disturbing work but an emotive work it remains, mesmerizing and horrifying in equal measure. It deserves your attention but beware: once it’s taken hold, it won’t let you go.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: v0 mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Websites: facebook.com/hasard
Releases worldwide: May 12th, 2023

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