Located in the Mediterranean, the islands of Malta have become a popular tourist attraction. Before it became a peaceful getaway, Malta was directly embroiled in the middle of European history. Everyone from the Byzantines to the French to the Turks to the British has occupied these islands at one time or another. It was only as late as 1964 when Malta was granted independence by the British government. Hailing from San Francisco, it can be safely guessed that Time in Malta took their name to match their frenzied hybrid of metal and punk with the equally tumultuous history of said country.
Since 1997, Time in Malta have made their name touring, playing alongside some of the biggest names in the metal scene including Botch, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Ink & Dagger, Boy Sets Fire, and Snapcase. The band solidified their reputation with a number of seven-inches and EPs. Their 2002 full length debut for Equal Vision, A Second Engine, further cemented their stature. Two years later the band has returned with their sophomore effort, Alone With the Alone. Unlike so many of their likeminded contemporaries (Thursday, Eighteen Visions, Taking Back Sunday) who have vaulted themselves to MTV2, softening their hardcore edges, Time in Malta have refreshingly kept their harder edge, and hint towards a sonic growth to come.
Over twelve tracks, Time in Malta deliver their own style of metal that refuses to play it safe. Guitarists Chris Lyon and Todd Gullion deliver plenty of furious riffs and classic breakdowns. Adam Goldstein nobly keeps it steady behind the kit while Gullion takes his position behind the mic, screaming with a barely contained rage. Producer Jeff Saltzman does admirable job behind the boards, keeping the vocals audible but not pushed to the front, giving equal room to the guitars and drums.
With a runtime of fifty minutes, Time in Malta don’t let up. Tracks like “Bare Witness”, “Louder Than Bombs” and “What Are We Afraid Of?” are excellent edgy hardcore numbers. However, it’s tracks like opener “Forty Seven” and closer “The Wayfarer” that show a band ready to challenge themselves. The former is a 48-second instrumental that kicks off the disc with acoustic guitar and overlaid feedback. It’s a nicely constructed mood to start off the album. The latter is an excellent six-minute plus epic, that is also Alone With the Alone‘s best track. A metal-fuelled headbanger, the band creatively finds room for melody and outros the track with some more well placed acoustics.
While other bands like Converge, the Dillinger Escape Plan, and the Blood Brothers continue to push the envelope, Time in Malta seem content to stay where they are. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, as the band deliver with panache that few bands of their ilk maintain. However, the band hints towards a growth that will hopefully arrive with their next album. With “The Wayfarer” they have found a way to mix their metal influences with a melodic sense that thankfully doesn’t feel contrived. Time in Malta have wisely chosen to take their time in expanding their sound, and it’s only a matter of time until the band drops an album that will have the metal community sitting up and taking notice. Until then Alone With the Alone will please listeners looking for twelve tracks of well played, nicely executed hardcore punk.