Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Malevolence - Martyrialized

Malevolence - Martyrialized
2001, Maquiavel Music

Highly, eminently listenable, this feel-good slice of melodic death metal - sometimes a little too catchy for my taste, but it's difficult to be swayed from its saccharine charms - arrived as something of a surprise from Maquiavel Music from Portugal. I'll admit, once again I was put off not only by a record's cover art and promotional material (the bio emphasizes the fact that this was recorded at Studio Fredman, and that is a warning sign to me...not only that they would stress the point, but everyone knows what kind of music comes out of that studio - need I say more?), but also by it's syrupy-smooth delivery upon the first few listens. By then, of course, it's multiple hooks were embedded in my flesh...and it was too late to do otherwise than come to terms with this release...

Malevolence play an interesting form of death metal - their own style, really - as it isn't nearly as pop-influenced as some of the other Fredman fare, and yet it isn't so hard-edged that it would frighten fans of Arch Enemy, In Flames, etc. Sitting somewhere straight in the middle of the burgeoning European melodic death metal scene, this album would be a fitting companion or intimate consort in your collection with the likes of Sentenced's earlier work, just before they metamorphosized into a pop band, and it doesn't seem out of place on my promo shelf sitting next to the works of Iron Maiden (because of the primary influences found here) or The Haunted or Witchery - i.e., bands that write simple, hook and riff-based melodic thrash/death. Throughout it's all-too-short thirty minutes and forty-eight seconds, Malevolence offer a gathering of nine songs, all more or less based on traditional song structures, with iron-clad verses and choruses, workman-like riffing, strong and sure, virtuoso solos, capable drumming, and enough variation to keep your interest over its playing length. To be honest: if you are in any way a fan of melodic death, or have researched its roots and history over the past few years, this won't sound that original to you. For me, this comes as something of a breath of fresh air, because I almost never listen to anything from Fredman anymore, or from the Gothenburg scene. However, as the tradition of the NWOSDM dictates, there are blazing riffs all over this disc, dovetailing with a master carpenter's precision into each other, building up the structure and tension/release in each song in a completely standard manner (or should I say 'classic'?), creating songs that may not exactly win an award very soon for profundity., but they are very entertaining or diverting. In fact, I find this record to be so palatable/easy to digest that I have been spinning it over and over...like ear candy, really. In every track or composition there is at least one fragment, melody, atmospheric piece/sound or effect (usually used in the same way as Sentenced uses their little sonic additions - to emphasize rhythms) that catches your ear and forces it to pay attention...throughout these nine songs Malevolence show an expert hand in the maintenance and manipulation of sonic architecture.

My favorite song here (and this was a very easy choice) is the fifth, the very catchy instrumental 'Thy Extremist Operetta', which begins slowly in a wistful rhythm riff/solo flying high, soaring overhead like an eagle, and then descends into a sweep-picking/rhythm combination that sounds like a waterfall, or a tempest roaring, snow and raindrops fanning out and falling like shards of glass. In this, more than in any other song here, I sense/hear/feel the influence of Iron Maiden...but that doesn't really matter (and I could be completely wrong about it) because there are at least three great riffs or song segments included within that are extremely pleasurable. I think Malevolence mainly use this to showcase their writing/playing abilities, but let me just say this: going by this one song, they don't even need a vocalist or lyrics to craft emotionally-powerful music...it's all in the guitars...

I was going to say more about this album, but there really isn't a reason to do so. If you enjoy melodic metal, played skillfully, aggressively, and with style to spare, do yourself a favor and seek this out...