Whether it’s cocaine, whisky or Lemmy Kilmister’s p*ss, there must be something special in South Yorkshire water. For the third time in just under a decade, Sheffield has produced yet another metal band that could take the alternative world by storm.
Steel City kids Malevolence have only been together for three years but their first full length has just been released and shows a diversity and wide range of influences that unfortunately hasn’t been present in aggressive music for a while.
So many bands in this day and age sound generic and forgettable, most likely because the bands they listen to themselves are all similar. Malevolence buck this trend and this is apparent from the very beginning of their eight track offering. In The Face Of Death begins like a old school hardcore track (admittedly with a little more technicality than the likes of Madball et al) which effortlessly becomes thrashy, before introducing a Black Label Society-esque solo which leads into an outro that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Machine Head release.
This metallic mixture of hardcore, groove, southern and thrash is joined later on by blastbeats and moments of intense guitar work that is commonplace in death metal or grindcore. It’s genuinely exciting to hear this variety of styles in one band and it would be easy for Reign Of Suffering to sound like a big angry mess that doesn’t know what it wants to be. However (testament to Malevolence’s songwriting ability) it all flows together in a smooth and seamless fashion.
Similarly, the opening riff to Serpents Chokehold makes you want to headbang with moonshine in one hand and a spliff in the other yet later on, it appeals to all of the straight edge people out there with a satisfying breakdown. This gives way to a solo that features some pretty impressive fretwork. Again, the tracks just slither between styles and it really is a pleasure to behold. The only track that doesn’t really meander like a stream through the rolling hills of metal is seven and half minute Turn To Stone, which showcases the band’s ability to truly build a track and entice the listener before unleashing the almighty pay off.
Just like the musicians, vocalist Alex Taylor also brings different genres into his performance. His sounds range from no messing hardcore shouting to slick, near-urban outbursts and the occasional Phil Anselmo-style New Orleans drawl. While the lyrics aren’t exactly Shakespeare, they do provide some lines that would be fun to scream back at the band during live shows and some of the metaphors involved create interesting mental imagery.
For a young band in 2013, it is so easy to give into the temptation of making an album that literally sounds like every other. You know the kind: way too much guitar editing, moving trigger signals so the the drummer is in time, cutting and pasting vocal takes and a whole host of other sypes of studio trickery to make it sound ‘perfect’. Again, Malovolence have decided against what is popular and made a record with a somewhat live sound to it. The drums really sound as if you’re listening to them being played in the same room and the guitar tone is like a real guitar being played through a real amplifier by a real person with a real plectrum, not just a set of generic Pro-Tools plug ins that’ve been fiddled with more than (insert your own joke here).
There’s no getting around it; Reign Of Suffering is one of the most impressive débuts in recent year. They describe themselves as ‘five metalheads playing metal for metalheads’ and that really is the truth because whatever your preferred sub-genre may be, there is something for everybody in this album.
It’s fresh, it’s exciting and it’s heavy. There’s nothing not to like; the polished yet natural production, varied vocals, and beastly riffs from all corners of metal globe that make you question why the album doesn’t come with neck brace…
Simply put, this is f*cking brilliant.