posted on 8/2010 By:
Invidious – adj; “calculated to create ill will or cause offense, hateful”; “offensively or unfairly discriminating, injurious.”
To a fan of classic death metal, this Dominion doesn’t create ill will, nor is it offensive, but it’s most certainly hateful and injurious in all the right ways…
Malevolent Creation is a bunch of persistent bastards; that much is also certain. They don't always get their due—in fact, they seldom do—and through twenty years and as many line-up changes, while trends may come and go, Malevolent just continues churning out some of the most vicious and caustic death metal around. Their history has been a complicated one, but their output is consistent, angry and old-school because that school was the new school when they started back in 1987. The band changes constantly, but their approach never really does.
Emerging from the g(l)ory days of the Floridian scene, Malevolent spat forth two certifiable classics in 1991's The Ten Commandments and 1992's Retribution, before severing ties with Roadrunner and losing vocalist Brett Hoffmann in the all-around collapse that surrounded 1993's Stillborn. Bassist Jason Blachowicz took over vocal duties for two records, and Malevolent signed with Crash Music, another label relationship fraught with difficulty. Then Blachowicz left and Hoffmann returned, also for two records, before he turned the mic over to HatePlow's Kyle Symons. And then Symons was out again, after two records and a shift to Nuclear Blast, and Hoffmann and Blachowicz both returned for the blistering-but-fuzzy Doomsday X. Now Invidious Dominion, Malevolent's eleventh record overall, benefits from the crisp production of Erik Rutan and again delivers exactly what we've come to expect from this band, now two-thirds reformed from their earliest and best efforts. (In case you’re keeping a flow chart, Blachowicz apparently left and returned yet another time in the space between Doomsday and Invidious. And we didn’t even talk about the drummers or second guitarists…)
Musically, Malevolent Creation has never been a flashy band—Phil Fasciana's riffing has always kept to his roots in Slayer / Dark Angel thrash, alternating between tremolo-picked bite and chunky bludgeoning; Brett Hoffmann isn’t the sickest, lowest or most brutal vocalist around, but there's a venom within his half-intelligible ragged growl that fits this band perfectly. While a few moments of a semi-technical nature float through, and while tempo shifts are commonplace, the focus of this band is on a unified attack—a united hate, as it were—so Invidious Dominion succeeds almost wholly without standout individual performances (which is not to discredit them, but rather to point out that they're each of equally destructive quality). Malevolent proves their point not through prowess but through sheer kinetic energy. There's an undeniable crackling bite, a razor-sharp snarling edge that defines this band and makes Invidious a thorough and enjoyable neck-snapping rush from start to finish.
Rutan’s production is expectedly stout, smoothing off the fuzziness that plagued the guitar tone of Doomsday. While Malevolent has always played well, they’ve never had a production to match their ferocity until now. These guitars are meaty, biting, mid-range-y; Gus Rios’ drums sound great, even the hated china cymbal, my most loathed of percussion implements. (Damn things always sound like someone smashing two shopping carts together.) Hoffmann’s voice, mixed a notch too low on the previous disc, is back up in the right spot, nestled atop Fasciana’s and ex-Wykked Wytch-man Gio Geracia’s buzzsaw tone.
And of course, it certainly helps that the band has penned some killer tunes for Invidious, as well. Dismissing the pointless intro track—seriously, why do bands do this? This one is little more than gurgling and a volume swell—the album starts with the all-out attack of “United Hate” and proceeds to not let up for half an hour until the final blast of the title track. There’s no need to go song-by-song—as mentioned above, Malevolent Creation doesn’t deviate from the plan. Whilst the slicing breakneck riffs remain Malevolent’s best creations, Fasciana is smart enough to vary the attack just enough to give the listener a few brief bits of breathing room—paced throughout, there are just enough slower moments and enough melodic teasers to offer temporary rest for the wicked. (Witness the caveman lumber that pops up periodically in “Target Rich Environment” for a fine lesson in mid-tempo mayhem.)
I picked up The Ten Commandments back around 1992, one of the first death metal albums I ever bought and one of the first I ever embraced because it was ultimately just a hyper-aggressive, uglier version of the thrash I was already into. I lost track of Malevolent Creation (and that copy of Commandments) as I drifted briefly from death metal in the late 90s, rejoining and departing from the program seemingly in lockstep with each reunion and subsequent separation of Fasciana and Hoffmann. After two decades, to see Malevolent Creation still pushing forward with such rock-solid results is like catching up with an old friend and finding out that you’re both still as awesome as you always were. Time may pass, but some things never change.
An excellent example of pure-grade Floridian death metal done properly—without frills, without trends, without mercy…
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