Released: 2009, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Ditching the metalcore shtick of their 2007 debut, ENTITIES, Malefice broadens its sound by incorporating thrash, melodic death and more than a passing resemblance to Machine Head, Chimaira and Lamb of God on DAWN OF REPRISAL, the UK band’s first output under the Metal Blade Records banner. The melodic guitarwork of Alex Vuskans and Ben Symons is a major draw here but the mile-deep grooves set in place by Craig Thomas and new bassist, Thomas Hynes, are just as appealing. Vocalist Dale Butler is surprisingly versatile, as well, able to go from a throat-shredding death metal roar to sparingly used clean vocals seamlessly. Together, Malefice makes DAWN OF REPRISAL one of the most enjoyable records released so far this year.
It is incredibly difficult to pick a dud out of the ten tracks on DAWN OF REPRISAL. Each song bursts with melodic hooks, plenty of razor-sharp guitar parts and enough metallic heft to cater to just about anyone’s tastes. Bursts of face-ripping thrash on “Abandon Hope” and “Hatred Justified” will undoubtedly fuel the moshpits while the big, driving Chimaira-like grooves of “An Architect of Your Demise” reveal plenty of headbanging potential. The guitarists aren’t afraid to mess around with a technical solo (“End of Days”), go for full-on melodic death-style twin harmonies (“As I Bleed”) or dabble in staccato riffing a la Meshuggah (“Sickened”), either. For his part, Dale Butler’s vocal style runs the gamut and sets him apart from the generic growlers. During the epic-sounding chorus of “Hatred Justified,” his clean vocals sound eerily similar to Devin Townsend’s but near the finale of “End of Days,” he pulls off a Robb Flynn-style croon. Everywhere else, Butler’s formidable roars fit the bill.
For many, DAWN OF REPRISAL will be their first exposure to Malefice and it is a great introduction to this band. A very full-sounding production brings out the best in the band’s sound but the proof is in the pudding and this is a great batch of songs that certainly defies the experience typically found in a younger band. It’s tough to accurately label Malefice as fitting into a specific genre but there are certainly several similarities to other bands currently out there. Still, that doesn’t take away from DAWN OF REPRISAL being a good record. In fact, it shows that Malefice is able to craft its own sound by absorbing its many influences and cooking them up into a heavy, aggressive and thoroughly memorable album.
KILLER KUTS: “Abandon Hope,” “An Architect of Your Demise,” “End of Days,” “Human Portrait,” “As I Bleed,” “Hatred Justified”