Five is the unimaginatively named fifth release by the once promising UK metal band Malefice released in April 2012. Recent album releases have shown the band changing from their thrash/ death metal cross over sound towards a more hardcore/metalcore sound with the biggest change being the lyrical style changing from death metal growling with rare clean singing to a simple hardcore shouting style. After such impressively heavy earlier releases like the albums Entities and Dawn of Reprisal, these changes in style were increasingly disappointing so when the new album was announced, I honestly didn’t expect much which, it turns out, was for the best.
For starters, the album only has seven tracks on it, none particularly long, weighing in at a total of around 30 minutes. More of a debut EP for the new Malefice perhaps?
Despite that negative comment, the album starts out promisingly enough with the intro to track one, V. A little drum roll followed by a decent guitar riff piques my interest but then Dale pops up with a hardcore shout of OH MY GOD, HERE WE GO AGAIN after around 10 secs and I know this is probably not going to be the album for me.
All the way through this short album the guitars sound a lot cleaner than on past efforts, the drumming is heavy and as frantic as you would expect and Dale’s clean singing, ever present in choruses on this album, sounds particularly good so it isn’t all bad. The song V, track one, uses quite a lot of shouting gang vocals and echo effects also in the choruses and ends with a peculiar static/distorted noise.
The Great Deceiver comes next and follows a pattern of more shouted verses with cleanly sung choruses which are annoyingly dappled with yet more gang vocals and distorted echo effects on Dale’s shouting. Musically, the song is very good with some really technical guitar work happening underneath the shouting.
Never Say Die follows with an intro that is just Dale shouting before he is joined by some frantic drumming and a heavy guitar riff after 8 or 9 seconds. The song has more gang vocals but also has a really decent but short guitar solo thrown in the mix and ends with a minute of riffs and drums that tearfully remind you of earlier albums.
Track 4, Wasted is more melodic then anything previous but is again full of effects and more of those damn gang vocals and isn’t exactly the deepest lyrical content you will ever hear in a song. “We’ll drink until the sun comes up. We’re wasted” or the even deeper “Let’s get fucked up”. Musically it is decent again though.
Time, track 5 is next and is an instrumental with a heavy melodic minute in the middle surrounded by 2 minutes either side of a slow paced clean guitar playing which is skilled, emotional and with the lack of shouting and effects, easily my favourite song on the album.
Track 6, Blueprints picks the pace up a little and annoyingly brings back effects on the vocals but does have a decent melodic guitar solo halfway through and the final song of this thankfully short album, Reach Up, follows a pattern of heavy shouted verses and melodic sung choruses dappled with effects and a short guitar solo but aside from the effects, is one of the better songs on this album with the clean vocals sounding particularly good.
While I can totally appreciate that this album will have a fan base, it is not for me. I really dislike the vocals on it and am not keen on the amount of gang vocals and effects thrown on top of that. I can appreciate it musically, for the most part, but it can’t be good if I cringe every time a singer opens his mouth to the point where the only song I can listen to is an instrumental.
It is a shame but it appears to me that the Malefice I first started listening to have a new vision of their future and I, and potentially a lot of original fans, are not in it.
I wish them luck and if you are a fan of metalcore or hardcore or just like echoes and shouting, give it a go. Worst case scenario, you only waste 30 minutes of your life but you may like it.
Malefice - Five (Transcend Music)
The Final Score - 3/10
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