Reading metalers Malefice have been tagged by many as being not only the UK’s leading metal band but also one of Europe’s elite since almost day one of their existence. Whether that is true is an individual assessment but they certainly are one of the hardest working, most powerful, intense, and brutal noise merchants this side of the great water. Though it is three years on from their acclaimed third release Dawn Of The Reprisal that album is stilled talked of with great enthusiasm, now though all attention will firmly be routed on the new beast from Malefice.
Awaken The Tides is brutal, it is immense, and it is a crushing metal onslaught. Renowned for the carnage and devastating assault on the senses they delivered on previous releases and from their live shows that has led them to tours and shared stages with the likes of Sepultura, Devildriver, Anthrax and Arch Enemy, as well as hitting hard festivals such as Download and Bloodstock, the quintet show they have not loss any of their spite and aggression with Awaken The Tides. It strikes like a sledgehammer then it grips harder and tighter until submission is guaranteed.
The title track and new video begins the invasion of sound. ‘Awaken The Tides’ is an explosive start and an impressive doorway to the album’s harsh content layered with moments of engaging dark strains. The track is the same, striking powerfully but keeping a chorus of darkened melodies in reserve to break out and balance the song. The vocals of Dale Butler growl and grunt, laced with venom that compliments the music perfectly. Strong as it is the next track ‘Delirium’ leaves it standing at the gate, an incessant grinding groove from Tom Hynes on bass backed by the tense and rampant drums of Chris Allan-Whyte drives the attack to allow the guitars of Ben Symons and Alex Vuskans to explore and strike incisively at will. The sound is Devildriver and Hatebreed rolled into a strong flavouring but the track is all Malefice.
The following songs make their play with various degrees of success but all within a good and strong consistency. ‘The Day The Sky Fell’ combines an intriguing mix of paces and tones which seamlessly flow into each other. Butler brings a great desperation to his vocals as the track builds and builds to, and ebbs and flows around, a crescendo of potent sounds whilst his additional clean vocals shows his versatility. It has an In Flames/Stone Sour feel and makes a good variation to the high impact tracks elsewhere. Tracks like ‘Baying For Blood’ and ‘Blessed Cursed’ are hard and in the face, and again strong and satisfying though alongside each other at times there is a blending of sounds as one tracks ends and the next begins, a spark of distinctiveness missing sometimes. Closing track ‘The Haunting’ combines everything, aggression, melodies and emotive atmospheric sounds. At times it is unsettling and surprising mainly in good ways and though there are moments where it does not quite come off, but it has an intriguing experimental feel that should be pursued in the future.
Awaken The Tides’ best track is the excellent ‘Outnumbered Outgunned’; it attacks with its artillery of drum shells and punishing basslines whilst the guitars pick off the listener with ease. With the feel of a heavier and darker October File the song is a rampant example of creativity and quality.
Awaken The Tides bulges with ravaging riffs, haunting melodies, unforgiving guitars and songs with real depth. It should and must be given free rein of all ears that enjoy metal with quality. Malefice are back with a bang and though they have not created a new direction or startlingly new dimension to their sound they certainly have given us an album that is completely enjoyable.
Awaken The Tides is available now on Metal Blade Records.