Malevolence – ‘The Other Side’

By Ian Kenworthy

Malevolence put themselves on the map with their 2013 debut album, the wonderfully punishing ‘Reign Of Suffering’. Regarded as something of a hardcore classic, it was a fine example of metallic hardcore, but they were only to better it. Their 2017 album ‘Self Supremacy’ offered a broader sound by expanding on their roots. Heavier and more accessible, it leant on slower breakdowns and rapid lead guitar work while being shot through with melody, creating another jewel in the band’s crown. Picking up where the album left off, they are continuing their evolution with a new three-track EP ‘The Other Side’.

Each of the three songs approaches the band’s core sound from a different angle.Opening with track ‘Remain Unbeaten’ recalls the muscular, breakdown-heavy sound of their 2017 album ‘Self Supremacy’ with its double-bass peddle and rapid pace. Taylor’s gruff vocals tear rapidly through the lyrics with such varying force it’s like being fired upon by machine guns of different calibres. Just like the previous song, guitarists Konan Hall and Josh Baines add rapid flourishes to their playing, which help keep everything extremely slick.

Second track ‘Keep Your Distance’ is a serious slice of hardcore metal. Made for the mosh-pit, it stampedes furiously along with great big fist-swinging guitar chugs. Punishing in all the best ways, it manages to offer breathing space without ever letting up. It treads similar ground to genre big-hitters Knocked Loose’s new album, which is interesting, given that it features a guest vocal from their vocalist Bryan Garris. His part does feel a bit rushed, but only compared to the performance he puts in on his own record but he still brings a whirl of raw and ready energy to the song.

Closing with the album title track, ‘The Other Side’, we’re treated to a slower, more thoughtful approach. While there are songs in the band’s catalogue following a similar template, here it really feels like something special and is executed with panache. Over five minutes, the song takes its time to unfold and reveal its true nature. The lead guitars start delicately picking out notes, but by the finale they’re wringing out licks in the most powerful of ways. Similarly, the rhythm guitars become increasingly heavy, unleashing a chugging and furious climax. Konan Hall’s clean vocals follow a similar, though inverted, pattern and even long-term fans won’t expect to have their heart crumpled by his singing. Drenched in repressed anguish, he puts in an amazing performance, making every word count.

Carl Brown’s production makes the most of the band’s sound and the EP is big, brash and hard-hitting. Despite this, the subtleties aren’t lost – there is diversity and depth, no matter how hard the band are pushing themselves.

Each song here is a masterclass in ear-grabbing quality, and ‘The Other Side’ punches you in the guts from three different directions. It’s a short, sharp offering from Malevolence, but when it’s so thrilling, absolutely no one is going to complain.

IAN KENWORTHY

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