Album of the week 06-2012: Malevolent Creation – The Ten Commandments

Death Metal for comfort. That’s what Malevolent Creation has always been to me. At least as powerful as chocolate or ice cream when love sick, better than sports when there’s too much energy I need to unleash and not as punishable by law as smashing someone’s face in when angry. Where many Death Metal bands are wasting all their effort on being as heavy as possible, the Bret Hoffman-fronted incarnations of Malevolent Creation are almost a form of extreme Thrash Metal in their unbridled aggression, not miles away from what Possessed was doing before, just much tighter and more precise.

Prior to debut album ‘The Ten Commandments’, the Buffalo-bred band moved to Florida to join the blossoming Death Metal scene which obviously influenced them. Of course, the Dan Seagrave artwork and awesome, powerful Scott Burns production that most Floridian DM bands at the time carried only add to that. But Malevolent Creation wasn’t only the sludgy gore of Obituary or the hyperspeed blasting of Morbid Angel – in fact, there are hardly any blastbeats on ‘The Ten Commandments’ – they were first and foremost the riff based thrashing of Slayer and the riff multitude of Kreator. That is the most important quality of ‘The Ten Commandments’; it’s chock full of killer Thrash riffs.

Then there’s one line that connects the dots of every Malevolent Creation album I like and his name is Bret Hoffman. Located somewhere between a traditional death grunt and a primitive Thrash bark with the occasional tortured gnarl, he is one of the very few non-clean singers that can lift a Metal song to a higher level for me. His tone on ‘The Ten Commandments’ is a little less guttural than usual, but twice as aggressive. This combined with Phil Fasciana’s punishing riffs and great guitar tone guarantees a vicious and enjoyable listening experience.

Personally, I tend to think of this album as a little more riff-based than the rest of Malevolent Creation’s output. There are relatively little guitar solos present; the almighty guitar riff is definitely what drives this album forward. All the other instruments often make place for the new guitar riffs to be introduced, but also augment them when needed. Mark Simpson’s rapidly galloping Thrash polkas in songs like ‘Injected Sufferage’ or the neck breaking namesake of the band or the way breaks are used to powerful effect in songs like ‘Remnants Of Withered Decay’, it all seems to be in service of the riffs. And no matter how fast it goes (‘Sacrificial Annihilation’ anyone?), all remains tight and precise.

While Malevolent Creation continued to release quality Death Metal albums – ‘Retribtion’, ‘The Fine Art Of Murder’, ‘Invidious Dominion’ and especially ‘Envenomed’ spring to mind – it is the Thrashing intensity of ‘The Ten Commandments’ that holds a special place in my heart. Most of the Death Metal I listen to is the thinking man’s Death Metal like Chuck Schuldiner’s downright brilliant Death, but sometimes you just don’t want to think. You just want to rage. When you do, ‘The Ten Commandments’ is just what you need.

Recommended tracks: ‘Malevolent Creation’, ‘Sacrificial Annihilation’, ‘Thou Shall Kill!’, ‘Remnants Of Shattered Decay’, ‘Injeced Sufferage’

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