Wednesday, April 25, 2007
It's difficult to express in words how much Malignus Youth means to me. Their unique take on pure and passionate music is both impressive and awe-inspiring. It was back in the summer 1992 (or so) when a friend of mine had sent me a cassette tape of bands that he had been getting into recently. We usually traded tapes back and forth through the mail, exposing each other to new bands, most of whom were underground and got little recognition in the magazines or fanzines of the times. One day he sent me a really long tape (120 minutes!) with a whole side devoted to one band. A strangely named group called Malignus Youth. I grabbed the tape and my walkman and headed out the door to work. At the time, i had a job where i was allowed to listen to music on headphones while working. Within moments of listening to the cassette tape on my shift, i knew that i had a new favorite band.
I can't compare Malignus Youth to any other band that i know of because their approach and their sound stands on it's own and is far above any reference point that would unjustly cast a pale comparison to these superior sounds. Malignus Youth sounds like a band influenced by melodic punk and hardcore bands...perhaps groups like Descendents, 7 Seconds, Bad Brains, Subhumans, Circle One. But the style of those bands seems to have only left minor marks on the sound of Malignus Youth, with it's members forging along and trusting in the power of their own personality to create their songs. They combine very fast playing that is surprisingly catchy and distinct; full of weird melodies and stop-start dynamics, with high pitched vocals that seem to embrace a barbershop quartet-style of harmonic quality. Most of their songs are short little bursts of divine inspiration that sound like a celebration of life and love. Where most bands of this ilk place their emphasis on aggression and anger, Malignus Youth's music envokes a sweet sense of childhood innocence that is charming and a breath of fresh air from the macho posing that they contrast.
The band recorded a few select 7" inch records in the early 90's that probably had a press run of no more than 1000. Both of these records are on this Vinyl CD as well as the band's amazing full-length album titled More To It; in which the band truly hits their stride, punching out their brand of ultra catchy song after song and always showcasing unique songwriting skills and very impressive playing. All of these recordings were recorded in the guitar player/vocalist's bedroom, probably on an analog 4-track machine. Those requiring hi-fidelity might frown on this sort of thing, but i think that the homemade quality just enhances the sincerity of it all.
Missa Brevis/Ephemeral is a collection of two distinct periods of Malignus Youth, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. The first seventeen tracks are a grab bag of unreleased songs recorded at different times during the band's existence. Tracks 1-10 are taken from bedroom recording sessions dating back to 1989, a few live songs from '92, and some select studio cuts that took place in 1994. The material is amazing from start to finish and growing improvement and band growth is a treat to observe. The later material really shows the group pushing into unknown territory and taking chances that are surprising and rewarding...as on the jazzy pull of "To Fulfill A Dream."
The final songs are reserved for the band's magnum opus, A PUNK ROCK CATHOLIC MASS SUNG ALMOST ENTIRELY IN LATIN and bursting at the seams with ultra-speedy songs full of harmony and breathtakingly beautiful acoustic passages. It is a work of art and takes this band's brilliance to a whole new level of maturity. It is one of the few recordings that never fails to break me out in chills every time i hear it. A true masterpiece on every level. It's really as close to a religious experience as punk rock is ever going to get.
Personally, I consider both of these recordings as timeless testaments to underground bands striving to go out of step and create some truly memorable art. Very highly recommended!
get the Vinyl CD here
pick up Missa Brevis/Ephemeral here.
As always, your comments are always appreciated.