Built to Order, Made to Last…
Malevolent Creation is a band that was crucial in the second wave of the young but already developing death metal scene and have been an important figure within that cloud for decades. A band that is not only revered for their first two albums but also kind of a perfect example for how the praised can be dismissed after surprisingly underwhelming, phoned-in efforts like 1993’s Stillborn, a record that can’t quite escape the “rotten apple in a basket”- tag to this day. Then there’s the truly tragic story about Brett Hoffmann and his untimely demise, etc…so it’s a lot of gossip on the plate but I might as well cut that short because I actually do not consider myself a big fan of the band, not even of their lauded classics – they just never got more than a slight nod of appreciation out of me and believe me – I’ve been trying.
However, we are here now for a quick review of Warkult, which is the only Malevolent Creation effort that stuck with me throughout the years. The phenomenal track “Preemptive Strike” was part of a German metal sampler back in 2004 and turned out to be one of my first truly enjoyable forays into the realms of extreme metal. Initially turned off by the blast beats and rather treble-heavy production, the songwriting and thrashy breakdowns drew me in until it just clicked. It took several years to discover the entire album and while “Preemptive Strike” remained my favorite scorcher due to said ultra-catchy breakdowns and semi-melodic songwriting, there are several other great bangers on this offering worth your full attention.
Warkult is neither trying to be modern (for 2004 that is) nor progressive, hell I wouldn’t even dare calling it original, but it’s a well-crafted death metal record with adequate, if slightly fuzzy production on the high end of the spectrum (expect some ear-fatigue after the pummeling) and some fairly intricate riff-patterns with slight melodic touches amongst chaotic prime-Slayer-esque soloing. The super-urgent drumming style frequently crosses over into more brutal stylistic excursions, a bit similar to early Kataklysm(ic) ”hyper blasting” and/or Steve Asheim’s (Deicide, you know that) genre staples, making Culross’ work the outstanding extreme ingredient here. Hoffmann’s underrated replacement Kyle Symons does an excellent job on the mic, his throaty midrange-barks are both intelligible and powerful, providing a fertile breeding ground for the commanding nature of his warfare-driven lyricism. Taken as a whole, it’s a great death metal experience for the thrashers and most definitely extreme enough for the death..ers. Kinda like Sodom‘s Tapping the Vein but the other way round…you get the idea.
In fact, Warkult hasn’t really left my car stereo for a long time which is something that no other Malevolent Creation album has achieved yet, thus I’m crowning it my favorite of the bunch due to its thrashing longevity and almost exhausting intensity.
My personal highlights are the previously pole positioned “Preemptive Strike” with both “Supremacy Through Annihilation” and “Shock and Awe” close behind. All three (according to the database) have been (co-)written by Cannibal Corpse‘s prior – and later returning – axeman Rob Barrett, articulately showing the versatility and range of his extreme metal guitar playing. This deadly song-triumvirate should be part of every extreme metal playlist!
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