Malevolent Creation – The 13th Beast

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Barely a month old yet 2019 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for extreme metal. Black metal has already seen a landmark release in the shape of Barshasketh’s eponymous fourth album while Flotsam and Jetsam have raised the bar with their thrash-tastic The End of Chaos. Determined not to be outdone Malevolent Creation have unleashed their 13th album (imaginatively titled The 13th Beast) which continues the good work of their 2015 opus Dead Man’s Path and it’s an album that sits easily with the bands seminal early efforts The Ten Commandments and Retribution.

Setting a rather sinister tone The 13th Beast opens with a brief quote from classic horror flick The Hitcher but the band waste little time on pleasantries as the first salvo, ‘End The Torture’, is pure death metal bludgeon. In fact the whole album is akin to spending 50 minutes with the most depraved serial killer. Next track ‘Mandatory Butchery’ tightens the screws with blast beats galore and it really captures the essence at that classic Floridian death metal sound (which, of course, Malevolent Creation originally helped shape). As you’d guess by titles like ‘Agony For The Chosen’ and ‘Canvas Of Flesh’ The 13th Beast isn’t for the faint hearted as the band marry depraved lyrics to equally brutal, yet melodic, music.

In terms of line-ups Malevolent Creation are a band in constant flux with only guitarist Phil Fasciana the sole founding member. For some ensembles this would spell chaos but for this band the injection of new blood keeps things fresh and vital. In vocalist (and guitarist) Lee Wollenschlaeger they’ve found a worthy successor to the recently deceased (and much missed) Brett Hoffmann. Lee’s vocalist exist somewhere between death growls and the not so guttural and therefore they’re largely intelligible which is quite unique in the genre. While the growls of Cannibal Corpse or Obituary are threatening, to be able to decipher the lyrics to a track like the epic ‘Born of Pain’ gives things a touch of reality and therefore a far more sinister edge. New recruits, bassist Josh Gibbs and Phil Cancilla, turn in solid performances and they’re aided by a clear production and, with no egos involved, all the instruments are presented on an even keel and the result is well rounded listen. In fact it’s hard to believe three-quarters of the group are making their debut as an undeniable chemistry is evident throughout.

Sequenced like an old school album The 13th Beast ebbs and flows nicely like a vinyl record. A charge often levelled at death metal (indeed most extreme music) is that of similarity and to the unlearned Malevolent Creation’s latest offering could seem like pure armageddon but there’s enough variety herein to ensure the band don’t degenerate into geneticism. Sure tracks like ‘The Beast Awakened’ and ‘Decimated’ hit the listener like a brutal hammer attack but they’re chock full of neat time changes which certainly keep things interesting. Overall this is typical death metal fare insofar as it’s a very riff laden, punchy affair but there’s a few roots explored most notably on ‘Bleed Us Free’ which contains some fine Seasons in the Abyss style soloing and ‘Knife at Hand’ which contains a few brief breakdowns which serve as a foil and make the heavier passages more weightier. Album closer ‘Release The Soul’ is introduced with an atmospheric guitar line before bursting into life and thundering along like Those Once Loyal era Bolt Thrower. It’s five and a half minutes of epic, haunting death metal which leaves the listener hungry for more.

One of death metal’s strengths is existing inside its own bubble impervious to fads and trends and subsequently The 13th Beast sounds like it could have been released in 1992. That’s not a bad thing and certainly Malevolent Creation are not breaking the mould or reinventing the wheel but nevertheless this is a fine album that’ll please the bands legions of fans and it’s also a great place for the curious to start.

Reviewed by Peter Dennis

Track Listing:

  1. End The Torture
  2. Mandatory Butchery
  3. Agony For The Chosen
  4. Canvas Of Flesh
  5. Born Of Pain
  6. The Beast Awakened
  7. Decimated
  8. Bleed Us Free
  9. Knife At Hand
  10. Trapped Inside
  11. Release The Soul

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