In the wake of their polarising first AB release,'Mord und Totschlag', L'ACEPHALE return with 'Malefeasance', a lengthy and complex affair that further explores their fascinations and strikes headlong into the darkest of musical vistas. The journey this time is perhaps even more academic: further ethnographic audio elements are now present, more spacious passages, a deeper approach.
The album begins with 'Vainamoinen Nacht', a distinctly ambient and largely gentle piece, as warping tones begin to collide with the intoning of the Eddas and Slavic choirs. 'Hitori Bon Odori' continues themes found on 'Mord und Totschlag', repetitive acoustic riffing, joining with vocal chants and some executioner's snare rolls. 'A Burned Village' is a more Black Metal track, slow martial drums and staccato riffing, with layers of vocal and even some aetherial keyboard. Perhaps these last two tracks best show the nature of Set Sothis' collaborations with Markus Wolff (Waldteufel, Crash Worship), sharing some of his vocal and percussive styles. 'From A Miserable Abode' takes us into more familiar L'ACEPHALE territory as droning distorted guitar is swallowed gradually and ineffably under panning layers of shrieked vocals, swathes of electronic noise and maelstrom before passing over into Tibetan ritual music like some horrific and excoriating funerary rite.
The album continues with 'Sleep Has His House', a near 15 minute track of feedback scree cut through with repetitive heavy handed strumming and culminating in a curiously intoned vocal piece that recalls prime SWANS. Album closer 'Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted' is a knowing 23 minutes with some of the quietest moments on the album, as dreamlike interludes pass into arcs of harsh noise followed by acoustic guitars before once again entering the dream state, a field recording from beyond consciousness.
By no means do L'ACEPHALE make music for the casual listener, nor will this album appeal to all, in many ways they transcend the listener's preconceived ideas of what may be expected: L'ACEPHALE are perhaps most successful at operating beyond the constraints of genre altogether, and 'Malefeasance', with its dark, dreamlike and harrowing atmospheres, is their testament.