Released: 2012, SPV
Malice were one of my favorite bands of the 80's. After a bidding war they got scooped up by Atlantic and the lads from Los Angeles churned out two killer albums (IN THE BEGINNING, 1985 and LICENSE TO KILL, 1987) that were considerably heavier than what was coming out of the city of angels at the time, with the possible exception of W.A.S.P. and Lizzy Borden.
Weighed down under unfair accusations of being Priest clones and a changing musical climate, the band disintegrated despite a decent push, tours, movie appearances, and videos. There was always a small and loyal cadre of fans like myself championing the band in the vain hope they might reform. Main man Jay Reynolds came out of musical hibernation in 2001 and joined Metal Church. A glimmer of hope! A few more years went by and the possibility of a Malice reunion was on the lips of the few hopeful loyalists. Slowly the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and after 17 long years Malice reunited in 2006 and we had to wait another another six years until we get to hear new material!
The band is taking baby steps it seems, perhaps to test the water and/or the Metal climate to see if the reception, to a lesser-known band 22 years later, is a bit chilly. Accordingly, instead of a full blown, new full-length studio album, the band (or maybe the label, SPV) are playing it safe and have released an album that is mostly remakes from the first two albums and four new songs. I'm a bit disappointed about this and personally I'm considering NEW BREED OF GODZ (in my twisted little mind) as a four-track EP with the eight ‘bonus’ re-recorded tracks, and NOT the new Malice album.
So for you new kids, what is Malice all about? The band is a quintet of American dudes who play full-on American Metal. Three of the five guys in the classic lineup are back joined by Pete Holmes (ex-Black ‘n’ Blue) on drums and James Rivera replacing James Neal on vocals. Malice pretty much followed the Maiden/Priest template with a bit more heft and thump of the American bands of the day. The term ‘meat and potatoes’ applies very well here. No symphonic stuff, no folk influences, no gothic sopranos or female vocals of any kind. Just punchy Metal that lives and dies by the riff and the solo.
Naturally the production on the re-recorded songs is quite different. I’ve listened to the originals many, many times and back then the songs were treated with echo, distortion, reverb and sound effects. Most of that has been stripped away and the basic songs are laid bare, and it’s almost like hearing cover versions of your favourite songs. Not bad, but different. James Rivera makes a big difference, again, not good or bad, just different. He stays fairly loyal to the vocal delivery of his predecessor but adds his own flair to the songs. He hit the notes that Neal hit with ease and brings his style to these songs. Of the new songs any of them could easily fit on the first pair of albums with the possible exception of ‘Winds Of Death (Angel Of Light)’. Despite the title, the song is quite mellow and a bit of a departure for the band. It’s a plain song with a very straight-ahead drum-beat and simple acoustic guitar and a really catchy chorus that is quite repetitive. The song veers dangerously close to 80’s power ballad territory. It’s quite a nice song; elegant in it’s simplicity but it is a change of pace for Malice.
NEW BREED OF GODZ, despite my disappointment that it is not 10 new songs, is a fine reintroduction to this veteran combo. With a good festival season in the summer of 2012 and the backing of the label, I hope that Malice will continue on and release a new full-length album in 2013. The world deserves more Malice!