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Greece’s Mahakala play with several familiar themes. Usually at this point in the write-up, I could say something like “they combine these recognizable elements in a unique way”, but that is not true. The band’s sophomore album, The Second Fall, cherry picks very obvious great creative decisions from metal history. Bassist Jim Kotsis warbles and wails with clarity that recalls 70’s greats too obvious to bear mentioning. His lyrics stand easily on the literary-satanic axis King Diamond outlined, but add in Neil Gaiman references. Guitarists Chris Vlachos and John Tsiakopolous dial in a tone that wouldn’t exist before the Gothenberg went wide, even though their licks don’t resemble death metal much at all. Behind the kit, hector.d sprinkles in enough double bass to remind potential listeners that it is 2017, or at least some time past 1997.

I don’t intend any of that as negative criticism. Good music made from obvious choices is still good music, and Mahakala write memorable songs that come recorded with good clarity. Great riffs receive due time in the spotlight, but Kotsis’s vocals take center stage most of the time. The silent parts are dead silent. Guest spots by members of Rotting Christ and Sceptic Flesh don’t call attention to themselves, but add enough variety to keep The Second Fall stimulating from front-to-back. When I first heard The Second Fall, I experienced tiny flashbacks to my first experience with Mastodon’s Blood Mountain and I don’t type that lightly.

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“Redemption Denied”, streaming for the first time below, displays all of these ideas, but taken by itself might make The Second Fall out to be a little doomier than it really is. That into riff recalls Iommi but avoids blue notes in favor of less expected takes on D. Other songs pick up a little more speed. I recommend listening to previously released songs “Better to Reign in Hell (Than Serve in Heaven)” and “Wrath of Lucifer” (hello, Sakis Tollis!) for a fuller grasp of Mahakala’s simple but potent songwriting skills.

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The Second Fall will be released on May 26 via Supreme Music Creations. Order it here. Follow Mahakala on Facebook.

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