Malevolent Creation - The 13th Beast - (7/10)
Published on February 6, 2019
Another year has begun, and Malevolent Creation grace us with their umpteenth studio effort, suitably named “The 13th Beast” (not that this title is particularly original, but whatever). These old-school death metallers, hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have gained quite a wide following, especially among the ranks of classic-style death metal’s fans. On the other hand, however, with their entry among the major labels’ ranks (currently Century Media Records), they’ve also been subjected to more than just a few critics, being accused of recycling the same old formula over and over again with each new release. So, what about their latest effort? Well, if you’re looking for an unpretentious, solid and genuinely fun death metal album in the good old florida fashion, this is exactly what you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you were hoping for some shift or progression in Malevolent Creation’s style, capable of making this release stand out among the rest of the band’s recent studio outputs, you’re going to be disappointed.
Indeed, Malevolent Creation decided to play it safe once again, and to stick to the same canons they’ve been employing for the past twenty years or so. Lots of tremolo-picked, sometimes thrashy guitar riffs, tight growled vocals, vicious blast beats and double bass drumming for the entire duration of the CD, with the occasional bridge or solo to spice up things a bit. Talk about dejà vù… However, this doesn’t mean “The 13th Beast” is a bad album: on the contrary, there are more than just a few memorable moments scattered across these near-fifty minutes of sheer homicidal brutality. Tracks as “End The Torture”, “Decimated” or “Knife At Hand” do succeed in making your blood pump in pure death metal-induced euphoria. As for the rest of the platter, it just plays safe, avoiding experimentations or unexpected solutions of any sort, keeping on a solid, enjoyable and fun level.
Malevolent Creation crafted a nice death metal album, but it would be unfair not to mention the product’s flaws. First of all, the album is nothing that we haven’t heard before: although it does have some highlights, overall it makes just another decent add to the band’s catalogue: nothing less, nothing more. The stuff we find here is cool and all, but it’s definitely nothing new, or that hasn’t been done before, and arguably better, by tons of other bands, and by this band too. It sounds reminescent, as if the band was able to make a good album, but failed to make it exceptional due to lack of inspiration or new ideas. And honestly, throwing in riffs that sound exactly as a ripoff of Show No Mercy-era Slayer (“Mandatory Butchery” anyone?) isn’t exactly a brilliant idea, especially if you want to make your album sound fresh and inspired. The product suffers also from lack of variety: great part of the platter presents the exact same structure, as if they did a copy-paste, just changing the riffs. Almost all the songs follow the same intro-stanza-pre chorus-chorus scheme, and almost all the songs consist in extremely fast-paced, blast beat-seasoned assaults, with no signs of variation except the different tremolo-picked riffs employed, thus making them merge one into the other, at least during the first listens. The only exception is the final song, “Release The Soul”, which starts (and ends, in a somehow cyclic fashion) with a slow, chord-based, imposing riff, making up for one of the album’s highlights.
Lee Wollenschlaeger provides a solid, passionate vocal performance, but he indulges on his mid-ranged growl far too much: adding a bit of variety, singing in his screamed or low-growl registers, would have made things definitely better. Another possible flaw is the excessive duration of the album, which almost reaches the fifty-minutes mark: considering songs like “Born Of Pain” owe their length to the repetition of the same patterns over and over again, I can’t help but think that cutting it short and going straight to the point would have benefited a lot of tracks, and the album as a whole. On the other hand, drummer Philip Cancilla is a real war machine, providing a relentless and solid performance (although not particularly varied) throughout the entire duration of the album. Spot on the excellent work done with the production too, especially the drums’ and the guitars’ tones, the latter sounding particularly evil and crunchy, being able to conciliate a modern production with the old-school death metal feel the band is known for. One final mention to the lyrics, they’re only slightly above your average death metal standard, but in the end, considering the kind of album they were written for, they do their job quite well.
Malevolent Creation’s latest effort ends up being nothing more than a solid, enjoyable listen for die-hard fans of classic American death metal, and, although it does have some flaws, it makes up for a fun and gory experience. If you’re a fan of the band, or you’re just looking for something genuinely fun, unpretentious and easy to listen, this may be the album suited to you. On the other hand, if you’re eager for an original, fresh and studied album, bringing something new to the table, you’ll not find it here.