Live Review: Malevolence, Sylosis, Guilt Trip and Justice For The Damned At o2 Institute Birmingham, November 9th 2023

Malevolence at o2 Ritz Manchester by Tom lee

Nearly ten years to the day since the release of their debut album, Reign of Suffering Sheffield’s favourite wrecking crew, Malevolence are back out on the road once again. Taking a string of sold out venues by force this month on their latest headline tour. With extra added support from stablemates, Justice for the Damned, Guilt Trip and the mighty Sylosis!

With two mammoth shows already under their collective belts, we caught up with the Malicious Intent tour on a rainy Thursday night at Birmingham’s o2 Institute. Where, as if the burgeoning queue outside wasn’t a big enough hint that we’re in the right place. A full size tour bus with ten foot high likenesses of Malevolence emblazoned upon its sides awaits. Confirming in one of the most surreal ways possible that one of this Winter’s heaviest tour line-ups is definitely in attendance tonight. 

Aussie deathcore merchants, Justice of the Damned (8) have the job of opening up tonight’s show. However, even though the growing crowd in front of them is largely still damp and cold from the night outside. It doesn’t take long for frontman Bobak Raffiee to start warming everyone up. 

Sticking mostly to material from their latest album, the blistering breakdowns and uncompromising blast beat of songs like Final Cataclysm kick the first circle pits of the night into gear early. Much to Raffie’s delight as he prowls the stage, eliciting more and energy from the audience until all too soon it’s time for them to end their short but ferocious set with Pain is Power

Homegrown heroes Guilt Trip (8) are up next and despite playing to some of the biggest crowds of their career on this tour. If anything the Manchester born five piece seem more focused than nervous. Ploughing straight into the opening riff to Fallen At My Feet with a surprising amount of swagger. 

Fully aware that their time here tonight is limited, once Guilt Trip get going there’s no stopping them either. Without pausing for so much as a breath they hammer their way through nearly ten tracks in just over thirty minutes. Providing a non-stop thrash metal onslaught with a level of poise and precision that far exceeds their years. Earning themselves more than a few new fans along the way!

After a lightning fast changeover it’s time for the first of tonight’s main events, Sylosis (9). Who are on absolutely top form from the off, as they rip into a rendition of Poison for the Lost that threatens to tear the roof off the o2 Institute. Guitarist and frontman, Josh Middletons lead channel is a little too low in the mix, a problem that persists throughout their set. However, he seems completely unphased. In fact, quite the contrary. With his departure from Architects now firmly in the rear view mirror, he seems reinvigorated and laps up the adulation pouring out of the crowd after every song. Seeming more at home than ever among the chaos and carnage unfolding in front of him.

Their set isn’t purely centred around material from Cycle of Suffering either. with the band finding plenty of time to dig into their now decades old back catalogue. Dropping in plenty of old school tracks like Worship Decay and The Blackest Skyline among their latest material, both of which go down a treat and serve as a potent reminder that Sylosis have been at this level for a long time. Despite the hiatuses and stumbling blocks that have hindered them in the past. 

There’s a definite air of triumph around their performance here tonight and it’s heartwarming to see that the audience are on board every step of the way too. Bellowing back every word even as Sylosis bring their set to a close with Deadwood, with some even chanting for an encore as the band depart the stage, with their heads held deservedly high.

Last, but by no means least, after a wailing chorus of police sirens and some bowl shaking white noise, it’s time for Malevolence (10) to take to the stage! Exploding out of the gate to the suitably titled Malicious Intent, it’s immediately apparent that someone behind the sound desk has turned everything up to eleven for tonight’s headliners. As even the balcony seating begins to reverberate along to the punishing beat of Charlie Thorpe’s pounding double-kick drums. 

Already well known for their unbridled aggression and ability to put a crowd well and truly though its paces. There are also signs that Malevolence are beginning to evolve into more than just a metalcore battering ram. Ramping things up in the early going with tracks like Life Sentence and Waste of Myself. Then bringing things down a notch and giving the audience time to breathe and sing along to slightly less abrasive numbers like Still Waters Run Deep. Creating an ebb and flow to their set that compliments the out and out savagery of their performance perfectly. 

That’s not to say they don’t still know how to put a venues security team through their paces though, with the front row being assaulted be a seemingly endless stream of crowd surfers that only intensifies as the night goes on. Especially when lead singer, Alex Taylor takes the mic out into the crowd during Above All Else. Letting a sea of eager hands hold him aloft as he bellows out the songs final chorus.

Not yet satisfied with the amount of devastation left in their wake. Malevolence continue to rattle off hit after devastating hit, from the likes of Higher Place to Remain Unbeaten. Every subsequent breakdown lands with the kind of impact you’d expect from military ordinance. That is until fan favourites, Keep Your Distance and On Broken Glass bring their ferocious set to a suitably cataclysmic end. Leaving nobody in attendance with any doubts that Malevolence have more than earned their place among the top dogs of the UK’s heavy metal scene!

Photos from Malevolence’s o2 Ritz Manchester show by Tom lee.


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