Overall Score: 9/10 Riffs: 9/10 Breakdowns: 9/10 Songwriting: 8/10 Pros: A ridiculously good time that keeps Malevolence’s momentum moving forward. Cons: They’ve already nailed their sound so don’t expect any eyebrow-raising choices.
Ask anyone with a pre-existing relationship with MALEVOLENCE and their music and they will tell you they’re one of the most underrated bands to come out in the 2010s. Whilst they’ve always been beloved in their circles, keeping up their momentum has been their biggest hurdle but the tides are starting to turn. After reaching new heights with their 2020 EP The Other Side, MALEVOLENCE proved what many had known for a long time during their sets at the Download Pilot and Bloodstock. They will win people over if you can get them in front of their faces.
Finally delivering on striking whilst the iron is hot, MALEVOLENCE‘s third full-length album Malicious Intent looks to continue winning over new fans and turn the existing ones into die-hards. In their first two records, Reign of Suffering (2013) & Self Supremacy (2017), they nailed down their style and sharpened the edges. Picture hardcore but with huge Pantera riffs and grooves and you’re basically there with them, oh and they’re really good at it. Nothing has changed here but that’s for the better, Malicious Intent is packed with huge grooves that make every riff, lyric and beatdown hit that much harder.
If that description of their sound didn’t alert you to how direct this album is, the opening run of tracks will hit you like a homerun. After opening the record with the title track, which is essentially a sub 2-minute intro with a breakdown, the album’s singles come at you one after another. It’s a barrage of bounce that whilst it would be impossible to keep up this level of pure energy and aggression, it solidifies Malicious Intent’s status as one of the most fun listens of the year.
One aspect of their sound that has taken some time to perfect is their use of vocal melody, courtesy of guitarist Konan Hall. His incredibly deep clean vocals are the bands best kept secret weapon and they’ve become more confident in knowing when to let the safety off. With a tone that will instantly make you think of Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), the melodic vocals never take away from the tone of the track, instead it feels like they’re just adding another weight on top of it to make it even denser. Lead single On Broken Glass is the best chorus the band has ever written because of how it makes use of Hall’s vocals to raise the track up to immeasurable heights. If a festival headliner wrote that chorus you would be hearing it echo around Donington Park for years to come.
The other side (pun intended) to Hall’s vocals comes in their slowed down and stripped back tracks which tend to appear once per project. Their 2020 EP release was a massive step forward in using this skill set to prove they weren’t just a beatdown band and it’s repeated here on the track Higher Place. Whilst they worked out the right formula for Malevolence a long time ago, they’ve slowly added this string to their bow without alienating any of their fans which isn’t an easy task when introducing ballads into hardcore.
Malicious Intent doesn’t attempt to tread much new ground but that isn’t something MALEVOLENCE needs right now from a record. They’re so good at what they do and they finally feel like they’re in the right place to bring crowds of people into the fold. Their third studio album keeps the pace with their previous work but more importantly, it keeps the wheels of the band turning. Expect this to be on repeat this year as a go-to good time album for the summer.
Malevolence’s Malicious Intent is available on Friday May 20th via Nuclear Blast Records. You can also catch the band performing at Download on Saturday 11th June.