Malicious Intent is the weapon with which Malevolence will smash through to the next level. It’s telling that they began this album cycle not with the release of new music, or even an announcement of the title of LP, both of which coincide with their debut Kerrang! cover story, but with the unveiling of Eliran Kantor’s striking artwork, which arrived on social media last Friday, March 18, and a single lyric from the title-track: ‘Rise from ashes, born to land on my feet / Let the world throw what it wants at me.’ Where Eliran’s work for The Other Side illustrated themes of temptation and manipulation, the image here – a fraught figure drowning inside a glass box – evokes isolation, incarceration and, ultimately, dejection. “It’s quite depressing,” Alex reckons, evidently relating to the figure. “He can see his way out, but he can’t get there.” Unequivocally, though, as he explains, it’s about defiance in the face of those seemingly suffocating emotions, rather than surrender to them.
Musically, Malevolence have always had that motivational swing. The key influences that have always driven them – Lamb Of God, Hatebreed, Pantera – are still at play here, but they’ve been honed and stylistically expanded across a more intensive writing and recording process than before. Working over a year-plus span, they demoed extensively in the warehouse space before heading out to Treehouse Studio in Derbyshire to lay down instrumental tracks with trusted co-producer Carl Bown and engineer Jim Pinder. Vocals were added by Alex and Kon back at the band’s facility, allowing the pair to experiment and stretch themselves without the physical and mental stress of a ticking clock.
While there’s a knee-jerk temptation to refer to the fuller-sounding finished article as the most ‘metal’ of their career to date, Alex contends that technical riffage and tearaway drumming have always been there. The difference, he argues, is that this time they’ve delivered 10 “heavy metal anthems, which you can sing along to – not just the words, the riffs as well”, informed by the hookiness and flow of conventional pop music as well as the melody and melancholy of seminal metalcore works such as Throwdown’s 2009 classic Deathless and alt. legends like Alice In Chains.
Still, many of the most powerful moments are where words are allowed to speak loudest.