This South Carolina deathcore group has been crushing skulls since they released their first EP in 2004. This is a band that has toured relentlessly for years on end (I’ve had the pleasure to see them on stage) and has solidified their name in the deathcore world. That name, which was inspired by a Cannibal Corpse song, is Through the Eyes of the Dead. Although I would say that any release by this band is at least worth a listen, Malice stands out to me as being the strongest and the best.
The style of deathcore that you hear on Malice is one of my favorite types: deathcore that’s primarily death metal-based. Some other bands that play this style are Whitechapel, Carnifex, As You Drown, Rose Funeral, and The Red Chord (although they implement some grindcore into their style as well as death metal). Some assume that the more brutal deathcore bands out there are brutal because they use a lot more death metal in their music. But I’ve come to realize that there are plenty of generic deathcore bands that manage to create a more brutal sound without letting more death metal leak into their music (Suicide Silence, Oceano, Salt the Wound, Fit for an Autopsy, etc.). When it comes to Malice, though, anyone that’s extremely familiar with death metal will easily notice that this album has a hell of a lot more death metal in it than most other deathcore records out there.
Aside from the musical composition (which I will describe later in the review), the two main reasons why MALICE sticks out to me more than any other album by this band are the sound production and the vocalist. This album was produced by none other than the motherfucker that is the leader of the brutal death band Hate Eternal, Erik Rutan. I’ve come to recognize that Erik Rutan not only has excellent taste in cuisine and that he’s a fucking mastermind when it comes to writing death metal, but that he also is an expert in the field of audio production. I do know that he’s produced several death metal albums out there, but I guess I never fully recognize how prolific and GOOD he is at producing!
What I meant before when I said that the sound production is one of the main reasons why I love this album so much was that everything is just so deep and meaty. The lower end is so solid and everything from the kick drums to the guitar distortion is so thick and mouth-watering. And now that I know who’s responsible for this perfect sound, I’m not surprised at all why, because that’s one of the things I’ve always loved about Hate Eternal, the sound of the production is just so amazing and bass-oriented! Also, the way everything sounds matches the music itself with razor-precision. The music is extremely dark and relentlessly brutal with enraging and crushing breakdowns; the way everything has been produced amplifies all of those qualities to make everything sound even MORE extreme.
Now here comes my favorite musician on this album: vocalist Nate Johnson. Haven’t heard of him? Those of you deathcore nerds have probably picked up a copy of the debut full-length of the newish deathcore band Fit for an Autopsy. Remember how fucking deep and powerful the vocalists’ growls are? This is that guy. I can’t seem to find the reasoning behind Nate’s departure from Through the Eyes of the Dead one year after Malice’s release, but I’m pretty sure that Fit for an Autopsy was already on his agenda, so he simply put all of his focus into them once he was no longer with Through the Eyes of the Dead. If you haven’t heard this album OR The Process of Human Extermination by Fit for an Autopsy, Nate lets out some of the deepest and most powerful and spine-chilling growls I’ve ever heard in my life. If that’s an exaggeration, it’s a fucking slight one, because there’s no valid argument that can prove that Nate isn’t among the deepest death metal growlers (if not just deathcore) of the 21st century.
The drumming is fantastic. The blast beats are crisp, tight, and very fast. Josh’s style is that of a simple technical death drummer. Although when speaking in tech death terms, the majority of what he plays is simple, his blast beats have a fast and complex sound that just creates pure adrenaline inside me (this is an album I like to run to because of that). His kick drumming NEVER, and I mean NEVER falls out of line. I’ve focused on the drumming on this album countless times in search for fuck-ups by the drummer. But I have yet to find any.
This is one of the better deathcore records out there and it shouldn’t be turned-down. If I were you, I wouldn’t pass up a listening opportunity when it comes to Malice. The album’s creative flow of death metal-intensive deathcore fills the listener with energy with some of the heaviest guitar riffs and bass lines the genre has ever seen as well as some of the best production work in the business. I would give this album 15/20.