The big review: Malevolence – Malicious Intent

Steel City supremos Malevolence smash through to Brit-metal’s upper echelons with ferocious third album, Malicious Intent.

The big review: Malevolence – Malicious Intent
Sam Law

It feels like Malevolence have been fighting for this moment for a long time.

When the (then-largely teenage) Sheffield savages first burst onto the scene with 2013 debut Reign Of Suffering it was clear they were a force to be reckoned with. That record’s no-frills meld of sledgehammer hardcore and machine-gun metal levelling anyone who dared press play. 2017 follow-up Self Supremacy saw them build on it, not only with increased ferocity and technicality, but also a violently affirmative message capable of connecting with fans on the world stage. Three-track 2020 EP The Other Side was another step up, adding a game-changing dynamism to their sound, with heavyweight brethren Knocked Loose lending their support. And yet, it felt like they were still on a level below the genre’s best: plucky Brit also-rans rather than genuine metalcore contenders.

Malicious Intent changes that. Packing 10 of what frontman Alex Taylor refers to as “heavy metal anthems”, it is a record painted in broad strokes with exceptional attention to detail “where you can sing along – not just to the words, but the riffs as well”. The old influences are still present and correct – Machine Head, Hatebreed, Lamb Of God – but the steely song structures of old have been tweaked for maximum accessibility, and galvanised with just a touch of digestible sheen.

Full-bore bookends Malicious Intent and Armageddon mark opposite ends of a thematic arc, with the former’s 99 seconds of fist-flinging frustration counterpointed by the latter’s sludgy, complex five minute acceptance: ‘Armageddon, rain down on me!’ On Broken Glass marries pit-stoking rhythms and a massive breakdown to some lung-busting southern-fried vocals. Above All Else, featuring Matt Honeycut of Texan titans Kublai Khan TX, is a masterclass in mid-paced menace. Still Waters Run Deep moves from an insidious metallic intro through a furiously two-stepping midsection and on into its cataclysmic climax. When these bangers are unleashed live, bloody noses are guaranteed.

As much as the hardcore bone-headedness is gleefully on display, there’s also some real subtlety here. Eliran Kantor’s striking artwork evokes isolation and desperation of struggling with mental health, and matters of the heart and head are handled with remarkable delicacy throughout.

The searing Life Sentence captures the chest-tightening dread of finding yourself in a self-perpetuating downward spiral. Salvation, featuring Trivium’s Matt Heafy, hides glimmers of hope deep in its angular, shapeshifting composition. Like Baroness getting it on with Down, melodic centrepiece Higher Place delicately picks at grief and the great hereafter, imagining an outcome, ‘When all that exists, is just an empty shell of myself / Fading away, ’til no reflection remain.’

Make no mistake, though: Malevolence are here to stay. Their recent jaunt around UK arenas alongside Architects might have been their first real taste of stages that size but, on this evidence, it certainly won’t be their last.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Power Trip, Knocked Loose, Thy Art Is Murder

Malicious Intent is released on May 20 via Nuclear Blast.

Catch Malevolence at Download Festival this summer. Get your tickets here.

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?