EP REVIEW: ‘The Other Side’ by Malevolence

Malevolence’s ultimate lack of prolificness is honestly quite strange to see, when every one of their releases only reinforce them as one of metallic hardcore’s top properties. Both Reign Of Suffering and Self Supremacy still brim with tremendous destructiveness after seven and three years respectively, but it’s the way in which Malevolence take their time in capitalising on the momentum they unfailingly pick up each time that’s holding them back. Obviously it’s better to have that mindset and make sure each release is as strong as possible than to loosen the quality control in return for more albums, but at the same time, the knowledge that Malevolence could have a far bigger profile within metal and hardcore is frustrating to just have to deal with. It’s a similar thought that occurs with the arrival of The Other Side; yes, Malevolence are releasing their first lot of new music in three years, but when it’s only a three-track EP with a runtime of around twelve minutes (it could effectively be classed a maxi-single for all intents and purposes), the theme of Malevolence’s patient release schedule seems to be drifting ever closer towards drip-feeding.

It’s a good thing, then, that The Other Side is a pretty strong release, and while it’s still up in the air about whether it’s entirely worth the three-year wait, the fact that it does serve as evidence for Malevolence evolving as a band is pretty impressive for something so slight. And even when that’s not the main focus, The Other Side displays a band for whom rust isn’t an issue; they can still slam with the best of them, and a brief but potent wallop to the temple like this still has enough evidence for that. For what it is, and for how effectively it can accomplish that in such a short space of time, The Other Side is definitely worth a few spins.

Honestly, it’s worth it for the title track alone, the main attraction here that’s the clearest example of Malevolence attaching another string to their bow with a towering power-ballad that still feels completely in line with their usual fare. There’s a bit too much of David Draiman in Konan Hall’s clean vocals towards the start, but the intermingling of raw, unfiltered grief and accented screams only builds to greater highs, and the sweeping, triumphant guitar work is allowed to indulge in classic metal ballad territory while still being anchored to a more powerful heaviness thanks to the low end. Even the writing, falling rather easily into heartbroken grief, gets that crucial bit of elevation thanks to real conviction in the delivery and instrumentation and production that can capture a sense of drama without having it be too watered-down. It’s no wonder this one song takes up nearly half of this EP’s running length; it’s exactly the attention-grabber that sets the stage so well for Malevolence going forward, not only in raising the bar for what they’re capable of doing but featuring it in an entirely new context that’s pulled off just as well.

That’s not to say that the other two tracks are bad or disappointing, but as what’s come to be the expected for Malevolence, they do get outshined pretty heavily. Still, Keep Your Distance has Knocked Loose’s Bryan Garris lending his more shrill screams to complement Alex Taylor’s heavier ones, and against the fat, gigantic groove tied together by the technicality that lends a sharper edge, there’s a drive that’s fairly commonplace for Malevolence but never gets any less thrilling. The aggro crunch has the same effect, as does Remain Unbeaten which transposes it into more of a metal context than a hardcore one, and even if it’s not massively novel, for this sort of brusque shot of what this band usually dish out, it’s perfectly fine stuff. The sonic expansions on the whole are minor but impactful, and considering there’s really not a bad track here, there’s actually a lot more that’s achieved here than might initially meet the eye.

Granted, a bit more content wouldn’t have gone amiss, but pound for pound, The Other Side is unequivocally a success, especially when it comes to reinstating Malevolence among the best of heavy music. They’re just as good as they’ve always been (maybe even better in some cases), and despite how it’s not too filling of a release, there’s not all that much to come down on too harshly here. It is still very brief and does suffer a bit for that, but translate this sort of momentum and power onto a full album, and greatness looks to be on the cards for Malevolence once again. When that’ll actually arrive is another question entirely, but it’ll surely be worth the wait.

7/10

For fans of: Lamb Of God, Pantera, Stray From The Path
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘The Other Side’ by Malevolence is released on 24th April on MLVLTD.

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