Malevolent Creation
The 13th Beast

I’m always going to consider Malevolent Creation to be in the top-tier of death metal bands. This is probably due to the fact that I am an old-school fan from their first few early 90’s offerings, and those feelings I have for their earlier material, coupled with the fact that the band has consistently released albums of solid to above average quality throughout their 30 plus year career, cause me to still hold the band in high regard. Through constant line-up changes and drama of all sorts from various bandmembers throughout the years, I’m truly surprised that founder and sole remaining original member, guitarist, Phil Fasciana, has been able to keep it together. Especially, with vocalist Bret Hoffmann having to step down from the band due to colon cancer; eventually losing his battle in July of last year.

With The 13th Beast, Malevolent Creation‘s thirteenth full-length album (kind of an obvious title there, a bit lame too, if I’m being honest) the band, full of newcomers in the likes of  bassist, Josh Gibbs(ex-Solstice), drummer, Phil Cancilla(ex-Narcotic Wasteland), and vocalist/guitarist, Lee Wollenschlaeger(Throne of Nails), manages to sound quite vicious and engaging. The new material is full on, balls out, intense and in your face, raging death metal. Super tight and hellaciously furious. Album opener “End the Torture” gets things going in a fierce manner after a brief intro about someone’s legs, arms, and head being removed. The track really does do a stellar job at setting up the pace and tone for The 13th Beast as a whole; it’s full of angst and Floridian groove and really does capture that old-school flair of the first few albums. More than a few times, “End the Torture” reminded me of “Eve of the Apocalypse”, from their monumental Retribution album, and that my friends, is no small task.

Follow up track, “Mandatory Butchery”, showcases M.C.’s influential knack for Slayer-esque intensity. I think many would agree that if Slayer was a death metal band, they’d be Malevolent Creation. There really are no true highlight tracks  to be found on The 13th Beast. All of the album’s tracks rage in similar intense bouts of pissedness, though none truly stand out with any awe or “holy shit” moments above each other. Though not necessarily a bad thing, but not a great one either. I did find “Trapped Inside” to really capture that aforementioned Retribution vibe. The song is an urgent rager that could have easily fit on said album.

I have to admit to being quite surprised to learn that out of eleven tracks, eight were solely written by new frontman, Wollenschlaeger, with only two tracks being penned by Phil Fasciana(“Born of Pain” & “Release the Soul”), and one being co-written by the two(“Mandatory Butchery”). The songs sound like Malevolent Creation though, which is quite a testimony, surprising or not. In fact, “Born of Pain” and “Release the Soul” are probably the least sounding M.C. tracks on the album. Both songs utilize some slower pounding tempos mixed with a bit of upbeat thrashiness here and there that help break up some of the album’s similarity(“Born of Pain”) and end up being a wise choice to end the album on(“Release the Soul”).

I’m curious if the tracks penned by Wollenschlaeger were written strictly for M.C. or if they were songs he already had and reworked them to fit Malevolent Creation. Especially, since the album teaser released at the end of 2017 is not only not on The 13th Beast, but sounds nothing like the album or M.C. for that matter. Either way, hats off to a job well done, not only on  Wollenschlaeger’s songwriting, but on his vocal presence and delivery as well. He really sounds good on The 13th Beast, coming off as a damn  decent mixture of previous vocalists, Bret  Hoffmann and Jason Blachowicz, though leaning more towards the Blachowicz vocal camp.

My only legitimate gripes about The 13th Beast is that while the album is blissfully intense, at 50 minutes it is a bit long in the tooth. After awhile the songs can bleed into each other and cause listener’s fatigue in full on listening sessions. The album could have benefited tremendously by cutting the fat back and making a slightly more compact album. Though depending on if and when M.C. might make a new record in the future, the long run time could actually help satiate fans. I also would have liked to hear a little bit more in the solo department, as most of the leads are performed by bassist, Gibbs, and the better ones are contributed by Solstice guitarist, Ryan Taylor.

Musically, M.C. have never really strayed from or played with their initial begat sound, and nothing really changes here. The band is still the same ‘ol Malevolent Creation. Love ’em, hate ’em, or even flat out opinionless on ’em, the band has released a pretty damn good album that really does an admirable job capturing the vibe of the group’s first five albums. Sporting a Dan Swano mix and mastering, the album is crisp and tight as a gnat’s ass, with a genuine pounding urgency to it, like a mixture of foreboding menace and brutal rage. Again, accolades need to be given to the line-up of The 13th Beast, for not only crafting a quality death metal album, but really managing to make it feel like a proper Malevolent Creation album. I think Hoffmann would be proud to see where the band is going. Where it ultimately falls in the group’s discography obviously comes down to the listener and his or her favorite Malevolent Creation era, if they have one.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
March 11th, 2019

Comments

  1. Commented by: Agustin

    Haven’t heard this yet, but nothing will ever top Retribution.


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