REVIEW: Altered Perceptions – Malice [2018]

Artist: Altered Perceptions

Album: Malice


There are countless ways in which men and women alike can be unkind. They range from benign to brutalizing—from errant mistakes to calculated acts of mass murder years and years in the making. When it comes to violence and malevolence, we—as a species—operate on a sliding scale with ever-expanding extremes. And while there are countless ways in which we express bitterness, mistrust, irritation and anger, the ways that are far and away the worst are the ones that come not out of boredom, accident or happenstance, but by intent

That intent separates mischief from its more misanthropic older brother, Malice. And that same intent is what takes Altered Perceptions from good to outstanding. With their third full-length release, Malice, Altered Perceptions are at their most grim and violent yet, creating track after track that oppresses the listener beneath tons of tremendously heavy metalcore with scattered elements of deathcore and its chunky downtempo counterpart alike. Malice is the very essence of what it is to be unkind; it is cruel, unusual, obliterating punishment that leaves the listener’s mind in shambles from the first snare smack to the last dissonant chug.

Malice is a lesson in just how carefully elements of deathcore and metalcore can be interwoven to create something with both groove and gut-busting brutality. Throughout its duration, the band behind this monolith of a record work tirelessly to create refreshingly ruthless music, starting with the excellent efforts from percussionist Nick Lee. Lee’ss work has always been top-notch, but Malice is even more so—technical where it needs to be (“Blasphemy” or “Reanimate”) and absurdly heavy everywhere else (“Azumaht”). Lee sets the foundation for the ungodly fury that defines Malice, as it’s fleshed out by the work of bassist Matt Nogueira and guitarist Logan Young. Nogueira and Young are devilish with their ability to create devastating breakdowns that morph into scathing riffs and catchy grooves alike. “Azumaht” is one example—likely the heaviest Altered Perceptions have ever been—whereas “Ophidian” and “Overpopulated Filth” are more balanced tracks, sharing the listener’s attention with sharp leads, grisly grooves and a plethora of off-the-wall elements that don’t really fit any aforementioned category. Largely in thanks to Young’s adventurous fretwork, Altered Perceptions remain difficult to pigeonhole into one genre, with elements of progressive metalcore and deathcore bouncing hither and to with technicality enough to keep fans of more extreme metallic subgenres interested. Now, don’t get it twisted, Malice isn’t a “tech” album, but it bears those elements by virtue of just how talented each respective member is at playing their instrument—expertly blending aggression and ingenuity in a way many artists could stand to take notes on.

Where Altered Perceptions have become a more intense and invigorating instrumental outfit than they were prior (and they were always at least above par if not more), their vocal effort has always been remarkable—but, in keeping with the trend underlying Malice, it is now even moreso. Frontman Liam Borrowdale’s range has grown in comparison to Altered Perceptions’ previous release, further establishing him as not only talented, but unique. Every track Malice offers sees Borrowdale pushing himself in new and intriguing ways. Some songs—like “Ophidian” and “The Empty Vessel”—see Borrowdale using an eerie and blackened style, while others (“Azumaht”) are just damn powerful, not only vocally, but lyrically. On the aforementioned track (and others), Borrowdale’s lyricism takes a grisly and dark turn reminiscent of some of Void’s material, channeling carnage and cruelty and doing an excellent job of it. In this manner, Malice truly unfolds to live up to its harrowing name.

Malice is Altered Perceptions at their best—which given their history for intense, heavy and creative music is really saying something. Groovy and crushing while still keeping a quick and catchy candor, the group have truly outdone themselves in crafting an entrancing release that will keep the listener coming back time and time again (ask me—it’s been in my rotation for a year or more by now). With each release, Altered Perceptions have grown, and Malice is no exception, forcing the listener to wonder how on earth they could possibly get more pissed than they are on Malice.



For Fans Of: Barrier, Soulkeeper, Nexilva, Sentinels

by: Connor Welsh