Malevolence – ‘Self Supremacy’

By Leo Troy

This mortal realm has no shortage of modern metalcore meatheads in Affliction tank tops. Hit the pit of your run of the mill bro-core flailing party and more than one lukewarm Carling will end up in your hair. That’s just a fact. But how do you deal with it? A: Do you burst into tears and waddle to the smoking area for quiet time, or B: Do you nut up, smash some beers of your own and charge headfirst into the chaos?

Of course the answer is B: an example of what could be called ‘Self Supremacy,’ a phrase that loosely translates as personal superiority, self-belief or simply put, confidence. Three and a half years after their scene-shaking debut ‘Reign Of Suffering,’ Malevolence are back with the blistering soundtrack to those two words and, big surprise, a start-to-finish run-through will make even the weediest dude consider arm-wrestling Brock Lesnar.

On ‘Self Supremacy’ Malevolence’s hallmarks remain unscathed. Relatively by-the-numbers Hatebreed meets Pantera stuff is omnipresent but served with such brute force that its hard to get snooty about it. Schizophrenic guitars switch from down and dirty slabs of brutality to Dimebag-revival shred attacks in the blink of an eye. This is a much more leisurely approach than previous work, keeping the relentless fury potent yet unpredictable enough to knock you for six at every turn. Preceded by first class, roar-along hardcore slogans, vicious beatdowns pop up here and there and when they do it’s hard not to burst into spontaneous violence. ‘Self Supremacy’ is like that, structured primally, accessing body over brain. Cuts like head-nodding bruiser ‘Trial By Fire’ and ‘Spineless’ just feel good.

As before, frontman Alex Taylor snaps and spits like a caged velociraptor, running riot over the mayhem like a pro, but ‘Self Supremacy’ adds another string to the band’s bow as guitarist Konan Hall contributes ballsy melodic chops. Depending on preference they either sound like a constipated Troy Sanders from Mastodon or the best Phil Anselmo impression this side of Ivan Moody. Either way they elevate Malevolence to something more. Slurred hooks of ‘Wasted Breath’ and ‘True Colours’ hint towards a newfound songwriting knack that, with more reps, could result in something truly special. But right now these bits are more a sign of potential than fully realised moments. Decent? Yes. Perfect? No.

Lyrically is where the album takes a dive. Disclaimer: sure, it’s not music made for Stephen Hawking, but when some lines could easily be subbed by scraps from the secret diary of a GCSE-aged rugby thug, there might be a teeny problem. It’s all about being “pushed aside by suicide” or “stoking the flames of poison” or whatever (those aren’t actually real lyrics from the album but you get the picture). Your standard cliches are all there, live and in technicolour and yes, they’re distracting, but in the grand scheme of things they don’t matter too much; just don’t do a booklet read-along.

Another downside is overall length. ’Self Supremacy’ overstays its welcome by 10 minutes or so. One of the best things about ‘Reign Of Suffering’ was its Slayer-esque brevity, so here’s some friendly advice: cut the last two tracks – just as nuts, less fat.

But those are the only two downsides. As a whole ‘Self Supremacy’ does exactly what it says on the tin, imbuing the listener with a sense of confidence. Yeah it might be mindless, but it’ll put an extra yard in your step and there’s no downside to that. You just have to be willing to put your brain on standby and raise some hell. That’s what Malevolence do and they do it better than anyone else.

Sometimes that’s all that matters.

LEO TROY

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