Malefice: Awaken The Tides (Album Review)
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
Release Date: August 2nd 2011
Review Date: July 15th, 2011
Label: Metal Blade
Malefice have achieved a lot in their eight years of existence, including playing at festivals like Sonisphere and Download, sharing the stage with some of the most illustrious names in heavy metal, gigs in places like India, and signing on to a label like Metal Blade. The British quintet are now ready to release their fourth studio album 'Awaken The Tides', their second on Metal Blade. If the previous release 'Dawn Of Reprisal' was anything to go by, this one was expected to be an even more punishing combination of death and thrash metal.
The title track begins in a very brutal death metal style but settles down into a track that typifies melodic death metal. Early In Flames material comes to mind straight away. It's definitely an interesting start to the album and the progressive nature of the tune might take new listeners by surprise, in a good way. "Delirium" keeps the elements of brutality and melody intact while it moves the album into the next gear with its relatively higher tempo. But because of it's breakdowns, it's far from being monotonic. "Dead In The Water" is a much darker, heavier, straightforward sort of tune that should please fans of the groove metal sub-genre. "Minutes" comes across as a completely contrasting tune, with guitar melodies being its primary driving force. Frontman Dale Butler gets a good chance to show his prowess on vocals, and he does just that. The quiet guitar segment that makes a brief appearance, is very enjoyable. This might well go down as my favorite tune from the album in the long run. Just as you would be basking in the melody of Minutes, "Baying For Blood" would grab you by the throat and shake you up, before its incredibly sweet second half lets you breathe a sigh of relief. The number of variations and progressions this song contains within itself is just amazing, just proving all over again as to why Britain has always treated us with music that effortlessly finds itself at the forefront of heavy metal.
"Blessed Cursed" offers yet more breakdowns, guitar melodies, expressive vocals and furious drumming, all somehow making perfect sense when arranged together. "The Day The Sky Fell" is quite different from the rest of the album as it builds up very gradually. But instead of the usual slow-to-fast build up, this one has a 'Doppler's effect' type feel to it, meaning it starts out soft and gets richer and richer in its sound as it progresses, almost as though a source of sound gets louder as it approaches you. And as I was expecting, "Outnumbered, Outgunned" serves as the brutal follow-up. This song wouldn't take anyone by surprise, but only because you'd have already heard these musical elements in the album up to now. That being said, the track goes excellently with the flow of the album. "Flood Of Red" on the other hand sounds a lot more 'symphonic' as compared to any other tune and presents another new facet of the band's killer music. "The Haunting", the longest, most epic tune on the album comes at the very end, with music that totally justifies its title. The band has dared to take a risk in devoting nearly one-fifth of this album to a track that doesn't sound anything like, or has any relation to the others, but they've certainly done so quite brilliantly.
Boasting of music that's crushingly heavy, hauntingly melodic at other times, and at times dissonant, this is the kind of album in which you'll find something new every time you listen to it. I for one don't believe in the millions of sub-genre and sub-divisions that exist in metal, but I know that if I don't mention the next sentence, fans who stick to those particular styles won't give this album a chance. I recommend this album to fans of metalcore, groove metal, death metal, thrash metal, so in short, fans of heavy metal. Every track has thrown something new and different at me, so it's hard to even pick any favorite ones at this point. All I'd say is, this is a terrific effort, the band's finest thus far, and I whole-heartedly thank Metal Blade for making this music available to me, without which I might have missed out on all of this awesomeness.
Simply stunning! 10 out of 10!
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