After forming in New York way back in 1987, Malevolent Creation soon moved to Florida and were caught up in the emergent death metal scene that spawned bands such as Obituary, Morbid Angel, and Death while also signing to the legendary Roadrunner Records.
Despite being one of these ‘original’ scene bands, Malevolent Creation themselves have undergone a series of line-up transformations, culminating in guitarist Phil Fasciana being the sole remaining founding member left in the band (the remainder of the band all joined in 2017).
With recent tragic news of original vocalist Brett Hoffman passing away from colon cancer in July 2018, and with over 30 years of service under their belts, their 13th studio record, aptly named ‘The 13th Beast’, is undoubtedly a pivotal moment for the band.
From the off, the noise that emanates from the speakers during opener ‘End The Torture’ is cacophonous. While the introduction contains apocalyptic-sounding guitars full of melody and a brooding atmosphere, the crushing low end rumble of distortion coupled with an exceptionally militant vocal delivery from new frontman Lee Wollenschlaeger brings their death metal characteristics to the fore.
The album at various points borders on pure thrash metal intensity, with ‘Mandatory Butchery’ being a classic example of this, but there are also flashes of melody that creep into the ferocious onslaught of guttural screams and chugging percussion; certainly audible on ‘Canvas Of Flesh’, which has a haunting atmosphere leading into a decent guitar solo halfway through, although is still sporadically blasted with filth from Wollenschlaeger‘s voice.
The band stretch their creative skills on ‘Born Of Pain’, a seven minute track full of groove and a catchy chorus the likes of which Lamb Of God would be impressed with, whilst ‘Trapped Inside’ incorporates a different chant-like vocal style, which interchanges between searing guitar work and a head banging percussive attack from Josh Gibbs (bass) and Phil Cancilla (drums) – the blast beats at the end of this track are insanely fast.
Finally, ‘Release The Soul’ shows a different dynamic to the staple death metal formula, showcasing interesting melodic changes lending itself to an eerie undertone. There’s a progressive, doomy approach to the song structure helped by marauding guitars and relatively stripped back drumming while still being ferociously heavy.
The album does whizz by in a bit of a blur with nothing truly memorable to stick in the mind, but as a statement of intent, Malevolent Creation have provided their fans with another slab of solid death metal brutality. Whether or not this will be enough to bring new fans to the genre is unknown, but at least they’ve stayed true to their heritage.
After getting into alternative music during the mid 90s with the rise of nu-metal and pop-punk, I’ve gradually spread my interests far and wide and have a real love for metalcore, prog metal and tech metal. Amongst other things, I am a husband, father of two amazing kids, heavy metal DJ, and video game/book/nerd enthusiast!