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MALIGNANT AURA

Malignant Aura have emerged from the depths of Naarm’s metal underworld to unleash death and doom alongside Melbourne colleagues Carcinoid, Brisbane’s SLOWCUT and Cerebral Erosion for one night only at The Presynct in Nambour. We spoke to Chris Clark, one of the masterminds behind Malignant Aura, about inspiration, triumph and loss.

BAD HABIT: Right off the bat, can you explain the concept and how Malignant Aura came about? Has the vision changed in the years of existence? I understand the whole project is meant to be mired in despair and hopelessness but listening to the riffs and seeing you guys live, there’s some sort of triumphantness about the whole experience. That subtly it’s about overcoming impossible odds rather than passively accepting a doomed existence. Was this something considered or is my mind totally going into the wilderness when experiencing the MA?

Chris: Malignant Aura spawned from T (Vocals) and my (Chris, Guitars) ambition to write some Death/Doom that drew influence from both the genre classics combined with Australian influences. I wrote several doom tracks while I lived in Europe during the mid 2010's which, at the time, were heavily inspired by bands like Hooded Menace, Virgin Black, Loss and Katatonia. Upon returning in ~2017, I hit up T, who I knew from Defamer fame(er?), and we tracked a pretty rough demo in 2018 with programmed drums. Those savvy enough with the internet can probably find it out there. The idea of the demo was to showcase the music to see whether others were keen to perform. They were, and we ended up recruiting the current line-up: Dalton on guitar (ex-Malakyte, ex-Grimhild, Ironwitch) Pete on drums (ex- Malakyte, Pustilence, Ironwitch) and Jonno on bass. We then embarked on writing Abysmal Misfortune Is Draped Upon Me, which was largely based on my song visions and compositions but, in contrast to the demo, it now included the input of the band, all of whom are professional, excellent musicians who added their own influences, really creating what we believe is a solid slab of unique Death Doom. 

To answer the second half of your question, we really didn't want to just make a trudging Death Doom album, which has been done many times. We wanted to draw in those triumphant moments from more Funeral style bands (Mournful Congregation for instance) to really create these movements of sorrowful music, without straying too far in that direction, so we also become another Funeral Doom band. T also has specific lyrical visions in mind, which really help to craft the atmosphere of the album. 

BH: Speaking of overcoming the odds, the double LP had many abysmal misfortunes draped upon it. From the perspective of someone who releases records, it was anxiety-inducing watching the process unfold. Can you give us the rundown on what the hell happened, the number of stress meltdowns that occurred, and how you eventually came out the dark tunnel with a double LP?

C: We (perhaps naively) did not even consider the length of the album when we embarked on the writing process, and the implications for whether it would be a single or double LP. When we had everything finished and were shopping around for labels, many showed interest, but the prospect of pressing a double LP for a band who had never played live, didn’t have a following and had only released a demo really put most off. Rob at Bitter Loss was not swayed by this, however, and really believed in our music and vision. We then signed to Bitter Loss with anticipated timelines of the DLP being ready for our first shows planned for June 2022. As with all vinyl pressing these days though, there were delays upon delays. Then when we actually received the physicals, they were in bad condition with many scratches and edges not cut properly. We decided against using these to sell to the public, as to not distribute a below-perfect product. The downside to that being that we sadly did not have them ready for our launch shows. Regardless, we've now sold out of the DLPs and are looking for a new label for our second release, including someone to re-release Abysmal Misfortune for pressing 2 – hit us up if you're reading this and are interested!

BH: I understand your previous label, Bitter Loss, went under just after the LP came out. This really hit hard for me, as it was pretty obvious Rob put so much of his soul into the label. From my own experience, it was understandable but depressing to see his hard work not paying off. Can you tell us how this all went down for you guys and how it affected Malignant Aura? Do you think there's space for a metal label in Australia that exists past a hobby / part-time situation? Is there enough people willing to support something like that?

C: The Bitter Loss situation is really sad and unfortunate. It was probably about 6 months ago now that Rob decided to hang up his hat. Rob did so much for Malignant Aura with not only the extensive promotion, distro and pressing of our physicals, but also put us up and sold out merch when we played Perth back in March. He’s an absolute legend and really poured his heart and soul into the label, but I think the financial and business pressure eventually got too much and he had to close the doors. No bad blood between us and Rob and we wish him all the best. I really think that even globally, it’s hard to make a living off a label. You've either gotta have a legacy as one of the labels who have been in it from the 90's, really find a niche (looking at Dark Descent or Invictus here) or, as most labels do, try to balance it as a hobby on the side. The worst part is that the people who run these labels are diehards and passionate about heavy music – as was Rob, particularly about showcasing Australian metal. They end up spending most of their spare time outside their 9 to 5 trying to run a label, a lot of which is boring shit like chasing pressing plants/distros/customers. I couldn't do it man, and I really applaud people who do. These guys are the lifeblood of metal and the genre could not function without them. 

MA2 Bad Habit Records

BH: What’s in the future? I get the feeling the double LP was almost like a self-contained project? Is there consideration for the next move? Are you guys writing new stuff? Is it more of the same or taking a turn into something different? Any tour plans?

C: Yeah man, as mentioned above, we're writing album 2 now, which is around 90% complete. Much in the same vein but exploring some of the different spaces we incorporated into Abysmal Misfortune. We're hoping to record this year with a release date somewhere in 2025, pending prospective label timelines. Tour-wise we don’t have much planned while we focus on finishing album 2. We've got two shows with Carcinoid in Queensland, including at the Bearded Lady on the 19th of April, and your Bad Habit anniversary show on the 20th in Nambour (which we're all very keen for). Potentially some great shows lined up for the second half of the year, but I can't speak to them just yet.

BH: Ok I’ll leave you gross and lurching swamp demons to revel in your own muck for now, but me and a bunch of other disgusting children of the cane fields are looking forward to you laying waste to Namba. Anything last words or curses you'd like to lay on us before you crawl through?

We are humbled by the anticipation. For those marching toward ruin and woe, we bequeath sorrow upon you.

MA3 Bad Habit Records

Malignant Aura play live in Nambour with Carcinoid (Melbourne/Naarm), SLOWCUT (Bris/Meanjin) and Cerebral Erosion (Bris/Meanjin) on Saturday 20 April at The Presynct, 15 Ann St, Nambour. Book your tickets here.

Support Malignant Aura on Bandcamp

Make sure you get along to all the shenanigans in Nambour for the Bad Habit Birthday Weekend. The details for your diary are:

Thursday 18 April
Wifecult, Glen, Extrafoxx, WORK?
Bad Habit/ Old Ambo
Doors 6pm – Tickets

Friday 19 April
Katorga (Melb), The Meat (Bris), Skirmisher (Bris), One More Billy (SC)
Bad Habit/ Old Ambo
Doors 6.30pm – Tickets

Saturday 20 April
Record Store Day at Bad Habit
Tons of new records out, Bad Habit RSD exclusives, Dedlee DJing in the shop
Doors open 7am – Free entry

Saturday 20 April
Cimiterium (Melb), Fat Dog and the Tits (SC), Exit Ploom (Bris), Gudgeon (SC), Schkeuditzer Kreuz (Syd), Moth Trap (SC), Flogg (SC), Double Sided Nail (SC)
Bad Habit/ Old Ambo
Starts 12pm midday – Tickets

Saturday 20 April
Carcinoid (Melb), Malignant Aura (Melb), Cerebral Erosion (Bris) and Slowcut (Bris)
The Presynct, 15 Ann St, Nambour
Doors 8pm – Tickets

Sunday 21 April
Record Fair and Vintage Market at Bad Habit/Old Ambo
Doors 7am – Free entry.

Sunday 21 April
Block Party at Quota Park
Jalang (Melb), Sick People (Bris), Pussy Jane (SC). Skate jam, street art, community.
From 2pm – Free entry, donations to travelling bands welcomed.

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