By Wayne Donaldson
It’s been almost a decade since Malevolence released their debut album, Reign Of Suffering. For many who followed the UK hardcore scene, it became an instant classic, but more importantly, its stylings opened opportunities for the band to reach newer and bigger audiences. An obnoxiously heavy album that managed to avoid the clichés and pitfalls of metalcore, but instead deliver eight tracks of uncompromised beat downs, well crafted metal and a dusting of southern riffs, all topped off with a vocal performance soaked in genuine anger from frontman Alex Taylor.
Following a frankly ridiculous list of support slots and headline shows, their sophomore album Self Supremacy launched in 2017. Doubling down on that southern metal sound that Konan’s vocals provided, but never taking their foot off the hardcore pedal, they smashed it again. A short but exceptional EP by the name of The Other Side dropped in 2020, providing the band with three more tracks that were essential to every live set.
[If you haven’t gathered yet, I’m a bit of a fan of this band]
With all that in mind, it is no surprise that Malicious Intent is one of the most anticipated heavy albums of 2022. Can Malevolence deliver on the hype? Well, without wanting to get ahead of things… absolutely they can.
The album opens with title track Malicious Intent that serves as an intro. It’s barely worth reviewing because the title tells you everything you need to know.
– Malicious: intending to do harm
– Intent: with purpose
One can only imagine they’ll start opening shows with this song, ensuring the crowd open up pits right from the beginning. Elbows up!
The next three songs are already out in the wild and if you’ve been to a recent show then you’ve definitely heard at least two of them. Life Sentence, On Broken Glass & Still Waters Run Deep are text book Malevolence and that does NOT mean that in any negative sense. Alex’s vocals are as venomous as they were on any previous release, delivering a hardcore vocal style while Konan leans even heavier into that Kirk Windstein influenced singing. There’s heft, beat downs and a lot of aggression here, but it flows with a certain groove to it.
The latter of the three songs expresses the sentiment of the five friends within the band sticking together and maintaining the passion for what they do; “The fire stays ignited”. It’s a reminder that behind the riff, behind the spin kicks, behind the stage dives… this is just five good mates doing what they love.
“Hardcore” and “ballad” aren’t two words you often see together, but Malevolence have mastered the hardcore ballad in the past
with Turn To Stone and The Other Side. Malicious Intent delivers another ballad in the form of Higher Place. A showcase for Konan’s ever improving vocals accompanied by Josh Baine’s lead guitar work. The track has probably the most intricate of guitar solos in the band’s history, and unlike previous ballads, they resist the urge to throw in some heavier slams as the song climaxes. The song also serves as a divider between an album of two halves…
The second half of Malicious Intent is still und
eniably Malevolence, but there’s a slight sprinkling of experimentation here. Karma has some of the most intense drumming I’ve heard on a Malevolence track but breaks into probably their most melodic chorus. Some building spoken lyrics lead into an absolute stomper of a beat down.
A restrained and almost grunge-y intro leads us into Ab
ove All Else, but with Kublai Khan’s Matt Honeycutt on guest vocals here, you know it’s gonna be a heavy one. The vocal hook on this one is massive (So could you judge a book by its cover / I walk with a chip on my shoulder) and you just know this’ll end up in
future setlists. The track calms a little and as it builds, it is so clear that Matt’s vocals are coming, and they don’t disappoint. In Matt’s own words “Harder than fuck, man!”
The album rattles on with Do Or Die providing another slab of heaviness, that chills in the middle for some punchy groove before barrelling into some dual vocals between Alex and Konan.
It was announced some time ago that the album would feature a collaboration with Trivium’s Matt Heafy, interpreted by some that Malevolence might have “gone soft”. Salvation opens with a slightly Egyptian sounding intro leading into some slamming guitars and savage vocals, it’s evident that Malevolence have not, and likely never will go soft. Surprisingly, Alex and Matt work well together on vocals. In fact, this song sounds like a true collaboration between two bands, rather than just a guest appearance. The Trivium sounds are very prevalent.
Album closer Armageddon slows things down a little. There’s a sense of doom in this track, both in terms of the metal genre and the literal sense. As the pace picks up, there’s some incredible double kicking and fast guitar work that contrasts against the slow vocals. An excellent track to finish on.
Ten tracks by one of the most exciting bands on the planet right now, and each and every one of them delivers in its own way. A band with an ‘unreplicable’ sound that still manage to find diversity in every song. Now with another album under their belt that is just begging to be taken to the stage.
Malevolence are on top of their game in every regard right now and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t check this album out. 10/10. Heavy Metal Kings! Go buy a t-shirt!
Review by Wayne Donaldson of TWKOM
Malicious Intent is released on May 20th on Nuclear Blast