American band Malignancy is one of the leaders in today’s uprising underground technical death scene. Of course, the true “leaders” that have been the most successful lately would include recent big names such as The Faceless, The Black Dahlia Murder, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Spawn of Possession, Obscura, Origin, and a few others. But in the more extreme underground world, where the brutality of the average band is much higher, the technical death bands that are the big dogs include Brain Drill, Inherit Disease, Insidious Decrepancy, and Malignancy (and probably a few others I can’t quite think of at the moment). Malignancy formed in 1992 and released several demos and EPs throughout the 1990s until finally releasing their full-length debut titled Intrauterine Cannibalism in 1999. After a couple of splits and a compilation, Malignancy didn’t see a sophomore release until 2007 when the much more professional and thought-out Inhuman Grotequeries was released. During their career, several lineup changes took place, leaving vocalist Danny Nelson as the only remaining original member. Now, 2012 has not only seen the first consistent release from Malignancy, but has also given Malignancy one of their first truly big tours with death grind behemoths Dying Fetus by performing on the second half of the tour.
The average opinion on Malignancy is fairly mediocre. Like every band, Malignancy has diehard fans as well as people that wish them dead. But most of the reviewers and metalheads that have bothered to even mention them don’t love Malignancy, but they don’t hate them either. Regardless, let’s see what the hell Malignancy’s newest release, Eugenics, is all about.
Compared to a lot of other very underground technical death releases, the production quality of Eugenics is much higher than one might expect. But then again, with the ease of access bands have to better recording equipment and programs, along with a do-it-yourself attitude, this sort of thing gets less and less surprising. Moving on, it’s not so much the actual production quality itself that’s interesting as much as it is the sound of each of the individual instruments. For example, the drums have a very meaty and thick sound similar to that of Eviscerated’s self-titled release. When the sound of the drums is put on top of the powerful, but very mushy and soft guitar distortions, it creates an extremely unique sound that I sometimes wish I heard more in this type of metal. And, because the bass is SO important in technical death, the effects (if any at all) that are applied to the bass guitar are minimal. This helps bring out the complexity of what the bassist plays, especially when he’s harmonizing and following along with the guitarist during technical sweeps and solos.
Next are the vocals. Those of you that have read any of my death metal reviews before already know that I don’t have a problem with inhaled vocals. I am, though, aware that there are certain situations where inhaled vocals are what the music requires, and other times where inhaled vocals can bring down the sound of the music. The vocalist is good, don’t get me wrong on that, but the problem that many people have with Malignancy is that they feel that the music would sound a thousand times better with exhaled vocals. My opinion on that is that I agree with that statement, EXCEPT that the inhaled vocals sound just fine where they are, but yeah, including exhaled gutturals in there would intensify the music.
The second reason why people seem to have a problem with Malignancy and this album in particular is that it is in no way unique or innovative. Assuming that innovation isn’t what the band is going for, that wouldn’t be the most valid argument. But after listening to this album for about a month or so, I don’t notice any innovation at all, BUT, it is unique. The clean blend of Dying Fetus, Embryonic Devourment, and Pathology isn’t something that I’ve heard before. Of course, there are somewhat similar bands (better than Malignancy) such as Insidious Decrepancy, Inherit Disease, and Diskreet; but none of them have quite the same vibe and sound as Malignancy. But even though they’re unique, it appears that the only reasons that Eugenics has gotten so much positive attention is because of the instrumental skills and the unique sound of the production of the instruments.
If you compare Eugenics to Malignancy’s other albums, Eugenics has an obviously higher amount of effort put into it as well as a more confident sound. Whereas the two previous albums had a sound that portrayed the band as being somewhat unsure of themselves. This is probably due to the rejoining of legendary Mortician guitarist Roger J. Beaujard in 2009. Roger originally played drums for the band from 1996-2003, where he focused more on Mortician, later rejoining Malignancy as their bassist in 2009. This, I believe, helped bring back a much more confident attitude to the band which is obviously displayed with the increase in creativity, technicality, and musicianship in Eugenics.
Eugenics is a good album for the technical death fan to have in his/her collection. But if you’re one of those people that prefer to seek out the more progressive and innovative acts, you might as well consider it as a waste of time. For me, this isn’t an album I would go back to unless someone asked me about it. Other than that, the only times I’ll end up listening to it is when I have all of my technical death stuff on shuffle. If you’re curious, you should check it out, because the musicianship displayed in Eugenics is above-average and contains an immense amount of slamming technical brutality with a fair share of sweeping riffs and slamming breakdowns. I would give Eugenics a score of 10/20.