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Class 6(66)

Malevolent Creation: The ten commandments

16/06/10  ||  Habakuk

Introduction

As we place this wretched waste of a man into his final rotting place we pray for his soul to be stripped and tormented of all that is proper, to burn in his sins. In the witness of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, his soul will fall below the valley of death. Left to rot forever, to never be free, never return.

How’s that for a career start…

Songwriting

9. Malevolent Creation used to be a versatile Floridian groove monster, with the bonus that on “The ten commandments”, they keep the pedal to the floor a lot more than on the maybe a bit more elaborated, but less primeval successor, “Retribution”. Make no mistake, less elaborated doesn’t mean this is one-dimensional two-riff material, what I’m saying is just that the skill lies more in the music’s conception than the execution (which is still flawless). The adept use of tempo changes gives “The ten commandments” an absolutely energetic feel – even more so when combined with short changeovers that have the rhythm of your face (or mine, if you like) being punched repeatedly. For an example check out “Decadence within” at 3:05, or the first notes into “Remnants of withered decay” to see what I mean. A standout track due to the relentless thrashing on display is definitely “Sacrificial Annihilation”. If the beastly breakdown following the bass descent 20 seconds in doesn’t make your head bang, you’re probably deaf. Wait for the ensuing build-up nevertheless.

Tracks to be skipped: None. From the intro and the following “Premature burial” (a pattern they tried to replicate in similar fashion on “Warkult”) to the epic title track on number ten, awesomeness to the max. As a whole, I wouldn’t call this album “death/thrash”, but yes, there is a certain thrash influence, and that’s another big plus.

Production

7.5. Scott Burns, Morrisound – what else, it’s Florida death metal. The mix is rather low in general by today’s loudness war standards (who’d have thought), but everything blends smoothly into one overall picture, as relatively seen, it’s all on a perfect level. The drums sound punchy as fuck, all’s good in the bass department as will be discussed later on, and the guitars have a characteristic, full sound. Putting the vocals just a tad too high in the mix could have ruined the whole thing altogether, as Hoffmann’s shouting is prominent by nature, but this trapdoor is avoided. So: Overall a really good job, just crank it up, ferfuckssake. If you crave a louder (not better) version, check out the 1989 demo version of “Remnants of withered decay” on the “Joe Black” EP.

Guitars

8. Ripping. I’ve seen Malevolent Creation being called “death metal’s Slayer”. While I think this comparison isn’t exactly genius, the only similarity I will willingly admit lies with the guitars. To get it out of the way, the solos are frantic, but nothing more – a bit better than with Slayer, though. However, Fasciana and Juszkiewicz just had the knack for simple but effective riffs that still sound complete. Unlike, say, Deicide (don’t get me wrong, I like “Legion”), they don’t have to rely on complicated twists and turns, as they manage to let the simple stuff flow marvelously. I couldn’t name you the stand-alone riff of the album, but they all work so well with the rest of the music it’s hard to imagine the outcome any better.

Vocals

9.5. One of a kind. Bret Hoffmann sounds like no-one else with his unmatched, intense frantic screams and a style that is often incomprehensible just because of its sheer speed, not the vocal range – despite being in a death metal band, he doesn’t grunt at all, but keeps the pitch rather normal, just using a raspy voice. The fast vocal patterns fit the underlying music like a glove, often at the expense of an intermediate syllable or five, but in that, Hoffmann adds a whole new layer to the already awesome musical department. I understand his delivery might be polarizing because his vocals sure are “unusual”, but personally I think it’s fantastic. If you don’t, then that’s your loss.

Bass

7.5 A high treble, low bass tuning for the instrument makes it sound ace when played on its own (see the aforementioned descent in “Sacrificial annihilation”), but lost in the mix under some circumstances, with two crunching guitars taking its innate role and lots and lots of double bass taking up the low frequencies. It does shine through in the highs however, adding a nice scraping sound to the riffs, as Jason Blachowicz is mostly following the guitars along.

Drums

9. Mark Simpson vanished after this album to fuck knows where and was replaced by Alex Marquez, but it certainly wasn’t because he couldn’t drum. He probably choked on a kick drum triplet, as he fucken breathes them on “The ten commandments”. His drumming is all over the place – in a good way – as he rips shit up non-stop. Blast beats, however, are only one amongst many elements of his style and not to be found all too often. It actually feels faster the way it is anyway, thank double bass triplet-riddled thrash beats. What I enjoy most is the very detailed playing, like his countless little fills, or the kick drum groove in “Sacrificial annihilation” (again) from 0:44 – 0:56. Fucken classy stuff, and I don’t care that you can name me 100 “better” drummers out there, in terms of feeling and groove, Simpson, just like Marquez later on, is the shit.

Lyrics

9. With Hoffmann cramming syllable after syllable into his lines, there are a lot of lyrics, and they are among the finest Death Metal lyrics I’ve read so far. Not that the competition is fierce, but Hoffmann’s words nicely transport a cynical impression of chaos, madness, death, disorder:

Straggling across the charred earthen floor,
all are dead few remain, where is the Lord?
Sky is swollen, crimson display.
Tattered fringe of sanity quickly decays.

___

Awaken in sweat, my skin chilled and cold.
May have seen my own death, but can’t see what I know.
Attempt to piece it together, illusions of the mind
Dark starts to alter formations of my find.

Bonus points for these lines:

From his fist, swift death is dealt / Your head up your ass, much pain is felt. – Kay.

And:

Welcome to the world of AIDS – Thanks!

Cover art

8.5 Yeah, this is actually quite good as well. Ten commandments, four arms, two books, one Apocalypse, zero survivors.

Logo

7. Spiky for the sake of being spiky, but not too bad after all, I like the <. Plus, the color choice complements the picture well.

Booklet

7.5 Nothing out of the ordinary here, lyrics, band, recording facts, thank yous, and a pretty cool band pic including Bolt Thrower shirt. Also, kudos for using black letters on white background. Rejoice, the gazillions of lyrics can be read.

Overall and ending rant

This probably still is my favorite Malevolent Creation album, and I love some of their later stuff. “The ten commandments” is one record that really got me into the more extreme realms of metal, back in the days when we had a band but not really a clue where to go, and until this day I see what got me hooked.

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1991
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • Website: Malevolent Creation MySpace
  • Band
  • Bret Hoffmann: vocals
  • Phil Fasciana: guitars
  • Jeff Juszkiewicz: guitars
  • Jason Blachowicz: bass
  • Mark Simpson: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Memorial arrangements
  • 02. Premature burial
  • 03. Remnants of withered decay
  • 04. Multiple stab wounds
  • 05. Impaled existence
  • 06. Thou shall kill
  • 07. Sacrificial annihilation
  • 08. Decadence within
  • 09. Injected sufferage
  • 10. Malevolent creation