The greater scope of Florida by way of New York death metal band Malevolent Creation‘s fluid line-up over the course of three decades never seemed to hinge entirely upon the riffs generated by guitarist Phil Fasciana (HatePlow) but rather how his collaborators built upon his ideas. From early Slayer-isms to hardcore and brutal death influenced bouts the band has existed as a collective with no persistent membership but with many musicians who left a solid mark under the Malevolent Creation brand name. What major personality and recognizable affect the group had in their first decade of activity, their heyday, came from vocalist Brett Hoffman who would duck in and out of the group as the project continued beyond any prime ‘relevance’. Normally I’d say the passing of Hoffman last year would be good enough reason to put the brand to rest but, that’d be overlooking the resurgence in popularity that Malevolent Creation enjoyed with Kyle Symons (Upon Infliction, ex-HatePlow) as the voice of their brutal reinvention on ‘The Will to Kill’ (2002) and ‘Warkult’ (2004) records, which were very popular and toured well. With death metal changing under their feet a pattern of constant adaptation for the times preceded ‘Doomsday X’ (2007) which landed in a strange middle ground in between resuscitation and revision; The result was very much a sign of things to come for all future Malevolent Creation releases and their style has not drastically shifted since.
Thoughtful melodic sections, brutal blasts, and new thought on those old thrashing ways persists in each record since but ‘Invidious Domination’ (2010) was a point of disinterest for me. I really preferred the more dynamic sound of Gus Rios and Alan Douches mix of ‘Doomsday X’ and felt like Erik Rutan gave ‘Invidious Domination’ a glossy sheen with a mediocre drum recording almost as if he’d cut-and-pasted his setup for his work with Cannibal Corpse. Malevolent Creation‘s last gasp was undoubtedly ‘Dead Man’s Path’ (2015), as the songwriting gave nods to classic Hoffman-era records and a more reasonable sounding take on the style of ‘Invidious Domination’. Like many general fan of legacy death metal bands I found myself only really holding onto ‘Retribution’ (1992) and ‘Stillborn’ (1993) as these albums are a majority share in what might have me considering Malevolent Creation ‘legacy’ at all; I had this same sort of revelation while considering the latest record from Monstrosity back in 2018 along with Terrorizer later that year, and ultimately have to wonder what good faith I have left for old bands that have left a trail of mediocre work. Nepotism is the vile sputum of nostalgia driven choices and this makes a record like ‘The 13th Beast’ a difficult prospect, as the name carries baggage that this all-new staffing of Malevolent Creation cannot possibly earn.
The moment you fire up this thirteenth full-length you might mistake Throne of Nails vocalist Lee Wollenschlaeger for Kyle Symons but as the record burns on his affect starts to feel overblown and monotonous much like Anthony Rezhawk‘s stint in Terrorizer. The mix bodes well otherwise with bassist Josh Gibbs (briefly of Solstice) and deathgrind drummer Phil Cancilla providing impressive presence and performances within an otherwise mediocre death metal record. This is no doubt one of the heavier records from Malevolent Creation since ‘Warkult’ and it makes a positive, fairly brutal and harried first impression but with greater familiarity none of it really holds up over time. I hear echoes of guitar ideas that made ‘Doomsday X’ a special sort of return to form for the band but, most of ‘The 13th Beast’ feels like a very good tribute to the band name they’re sporting. To be clear I do not hold Malevolent Creation as a precious relic or enduring godform, they’re one of the less compelling bands that emigrated to Florida during the scenic boon of the late 80’s; With that said I do think some major continuity in staff or musical personality was needed to justify this productions use of the name. If it just boils down to marketing, I’m fuckin’ off of Malevolent Creation‘s runaway train right now.
I might be dogging the band too hard as ‘The 13th Beast’ is undeniably a quality recording. If taken as it is, a new band under an old name, I think this is a good death metal record that has all of the trappings of ‘corporate’ death metal legacy attached. No chances are taken, no great stylistic ventures or experimentation occurs. ‘The 13th Beast’ is pure and simple up-to-par, post-millennium, United States-assed death metal. As a full listen it is a monotonous gauntlet of brutality that lacks any pleasurable dynamism, blasting and roaring up occasional thoughtful storms of death riffs. Sure, that is what Malevolent Creation is and has been for decades so, they’ve at least upheld a lack of variation as a key identifier in the bands post-classic oeuvre. Of course even if you disagree with my incessant need to be reductive of Fasciana‘s legacy we can agree that he’s chosen a good set of talent for this continuation of the project. None of these performances ‘ruin’ the experience, again they’re all class throughout, and it is the compositions that generally lack interest for my own taste. If it seems as though I’ve spat upon the legacy of Malevolent Creation for the sake of some kind of contrarian spittle, I simply do not think a record that relies on legacy for visibility should be so average when hot on the heels of death. Mild recommendation, worth a listen for curious old fandom and legacy artist die hards. For preview “Decimated” makes a brutal first impression, “Agony For the Chosen” is very catchy, and “Born of Pain” is likewise a memorable standout.
Infected bloodlust endures. 3.0/5.0
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