Malefice – Gravitas EP

Malefice 2014 Promo

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.Cover

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

https://www.facebook.com/maleficeofficial

RingMaster 04/11/2014

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Malefice – Awaken The Tides

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.

RingMaster 20/07/2011

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