There is always a twinge of excitement when news of a new Malefice release breaks, having been hooked on them via debut album Entities back in 2007, and so it was with the announcement of new EP Gravitas. It was an appetite and anticipation more than forcibly fed by the brutal fury of a release. The EP sees the UK metallers at their most fearsome and uncompromising best. It is a beast of an adventure and assault; hard to say the band’s best rage yet but definitely there on the frontline of their finest moments.
The successor to last year’s V EP and third album Awaken the Tides two years before it, Gravitas finds Malefice going back to the sounds which they feel ignites and is the core of the band. Vocalist Dale Butler talked about the album recently saying, “After taking some time out from the band to do our own things and focus on our own lives we came back together not feeling as we had given all we have to give to Malefice… We spent a long booze-fuelled evening talking about what we want to do and what came out of that discussion is that we want to write music we like…We are going to back to what makes us Malefice and we’re gonna write some fucking heavy music to headbang to.“ There is no doubting their success in that, the release a merciless and inventive brute force but unafraid to vein and spear it with the melodic fire and imaginative tenacity which the band has equally become renowned for in British metal.
There is no escaping the primal fury and angry weight of the EP as opener Forsaken descends on ears with predatory riffs and rhythms, both aspects converging in one intrigue soaked stalking. It is a seriously intimidating proposal with effects teasing the skirting vocals, Butler eventually escaping their restraints to snarl venomously as the song moves into a new aspect of its hunt of the psyche. From that initial harrowing prowl, the track slips into a torrential charge of spicy grooves across cantankerous riffs and murderous rhythms. It is a gripping and savage violation, the guitars of Ben Symons and Andrew Wilson pure spite and invention in their rabid riffery and designs whilst the heavy handed swings of drummer James Pearly Cook are judge, jury, and executioner in their attack on the senses. Completed with the almost carnal tones of Tom Hynes’ bass, the track is a furnace of malice and unfussy yet pungent imagination.
The cauldron of vocal ire and variety from Butler and band is just as feverishly addictive as the sounds brawling around them, second track Heroes providing more of their exploits in its own unique violation. A more merciful start fuelled by fiery melodic enterprise makes a ‘gentler’ welcome though the track is soon barging through ears with nagging riffs and unforgiving rhythms. It tempers and scythes across this tempest though with an outstanding haze of superb clean vocals and just as thick sonic expression, before exploring a mesmeric calm of evocative radiance and melodic charm. It is just the eye of the storm of course, the track soon back in vicious mood and ferocity. There is a feel of Fear Factory to it in some of its parts but ultimately this is a unique and thrilling exploration all of Malefice’s own making
Within a breath Escape is bawling over and brawling with ears, providing another distinct twist to the blaze of the release. Grooves seduce from the first second, scorching the raw and turbulent landscape of the song whilst another array of differing and complimenting vocal diversity grips the imagination giving more potency and depth to the track’s narrative. Swirling and savaging within its towering rhythmic walls, the track is a glorious trespass of senses and emotions.
Gravitas comes to a close with My Design, riffs hunting down the listener with pack like mentality as grooves sear air and flesh with their pestilential temptation and resourcefulness. As it expands and immerses the listener in its lyrical sufferance, the track is a riveting and skilled provocation but lacks the creative spark which ignites the other three tracks on the EP so magnificently. Nevertheless it is an assault drenched in what Malefice is all about, creatively threatening, destructively intense, and driven by pure passion, not forgetting irresistibly thrilling.
Gravitas is a scintillating slab of barbarous majesty reinforcing Malefice as one of the UK’s and Europe’s leading inventive metallers. Earlier we suggested a debate on whether this is the band’s best moment yet; another listen as we write though suggests it just might be and if not, anticipation that the forthcoming new album from Malefice will be is hard to shake off.
The Gravitas EP is available now via Transcend Music @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/gravitas-ep/id922130758
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