Album: Self Supremacy
Within everyone there is power that can be channeled into something immense and incredible. From the most downtrodden souls to those on top of the world, there is the ability to invoke change buried in the innermost workings of every human spirit—some are just better at tapping into and using it than others, and of all who are adept at exerting dominance through their reserves of inner fortitude, few have proven as excellent at it as Sheffield masters of shreddy, heavy, metal-infused hardcore, Malevolence. Taking elements of riff-driven, thrash-influenced metal and throwing it in a high speed blender with beatdown hardcore and hints of traditional death metal, Malevolence are an amalgam of murderous aggression that do their name proud. Self Supremacy sees this quintet reaching deeply within themselves to craft something sinister and crushing—dark and atmospheric without sacrificing energy or power, shrinking the listener’s spine beneath megatons of malicious malintent. Whether it’s the enormous, anthemic metallic moments or the bone-grinding and brutal breakdowns that add punch and grit to the release, there is little doubt that Self Supremacy is the sound of Malevolence refining their sound and letting the true force of their collective and figurative inner powers loose.
It’s hard to pin Malevolence as more in the metal or hardcore camp; where certain songs, especially the schizoid “Slave to Satisfaction” see the band embracing elements of stoner and sludge metal alongside their traditional hardcore roots, the closing seconds to the self-same track—as well as “Outnumbered” and “True Colours”—are distinctly more devastating and acute examples of eviscerating, slam-influenced beatdown aggression. The take-away? Don’t go into Self Supremacy expecting just one style of music—instead, prepare to get punished by everything from languishing and lurid hardcore to dissonant and diffuse doom and death metal moments. Percussionist Charlie Thorpe is the center of Malevolence’s multifaceted dynamic; roaring ahead on anthems like “Self Supremacy” and the ultra-heavy “Wasted Breath,” yet backing off and giving guitarists Josh Baines and Konan Hall room to do their thing on the interlude “4 AM on West Street” and the epic “Slave to Satisfaction.” Thorpe’s energy is endearing and keeps the listener totally hooked during the barn-burning first four songs, where he works diligently with bassist Wilkie Robinson to hammer a relentless low end into the listener’s ear drums. “Severed Ties” and “Wasted Breath” are especially strong examples of this—pulling from a much more heavily hardcore-influenced sound to beat the listener to death—where “Severed Ties” sees Baines and Hall dominating, as do the thrashy metallic anthems “Low Life” and “Self Supremacy,” the latter of which finds itself well-balanced between riff-lead ruthlessness and relentless chugging. Meanwhile, “Slave to Satisfaction” is the album’s most diverse number by far, picking up on the heels of the album’s instrumental interlude to ease the listener into the last fifty seconds of pure hate—some of the heaviest seconds the record has to spare. Baines and Hall are a dynamic duo, masterfully crafting metallic anthems and brash, brutal whirlwinds of beatdown-driven mayhem with equal skill and energy.
Malevolence’s blend of metal and hardcore is further exemplified with the vocal expertise of frontman Alex Taylor. Taylor is capable of both absurd low bellows and gritty raw mid range yells—but also of mind-warping singing that sounds like a demonic blend of yesteryear’s death metal progenitors and something contemporary and cruel. Songs like “Self Supremacy” and “Outnumbered” heavily favor Taylor’s harsh range and talents at creating driving and visceral vocal elements that add to the hyperaggressive instrumentation that gives them a platform to stand atop. Meanwhile, “Slave to Satisfaction” veers dangerously close to ballad territory for its opening portion—a section that may lose fans of Malevolence’s more…well, Malevolent style. This is temporary, however, as Taylor and the remainder of his Sheffield skull-crushers return to ruthless aggression before long. With lyrics that range from overcoming adversity to just beating the piss out of your rivals, Taylor doesn’t get too poetic at any point—opting to stay true to the band’s name and giving listeners something to fuel bad days or brutal gym sessions.
Malicious, murderous, Malevolent—this quintet cover all your favorite M-words in a maelstrom of absurdity and energy both. Self Supremacy is sinister from start to finish, giving listeners only momentary respite from its ruthless onslaught. While some fans who prefer the pared-down and pissed off aggression of songs like “Body Count” or “Wasted Breath” might not be as into the more adventurous and metallic portions of the release, there is no doubt that Malevolence have made one of Beatdown Hardwear’s most diverse examples of devastation—not to mention one of the year’s stronger metal-turned-hardcore albums. Anger and aggression most pure and punishing, Self Supremacy is indeed Malevolence rising above the likes of many peers.
For Fans Of: Martyr Defiled, Desolated, Gunishment, Torture, Hatebreed
By: Connor Welsh