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If there's one thing I admire the most about Malevolent Creation, it's the fact that they've never swerved in their efforts to deliver the most sincere brutality imaginable, for over 20 years. Granted, this very often comes at the expense of memorable songwriting, and I'd be hard pressed to distinguish the majority of their full-lengths from one another if you handed me some jumbled playlist, but apart from a few swerves towards groovier material and back again to breed a faster lethality, they've played it consistently straight and are not likely to change in this lifetime. In Cold Blood is yet another of those near featureless excursions, a self-propelled battering ram of primal musculature, but it's ultimately pretty average.
Most notable as the debut of the tireless, acclaimed skinhammer Derek Roddy to the band, and guitarist John Paul Soares (who also worked with Jason Blachowicz in Divine Empire for a spell), In Cold Blood rifles through 13 tracks in 42 minutes, the majority of which hang around the 2-3 minute mark. Caustic, explosive thrashing guitar rhythms are wound into a lattice of near death grind, as if a fusion of Deicide and Napalm Death not unlike the early works of Dying Fetus or Internal Bleeding. Fasciana and Soares jam pretty hard here across picking schemes that reek of exhaustion, but they never quite develop into hooks that remain for long in the brain. Pieces like "Violated", "Nocturnal Overlord" and "Millions" make similar impressions to a car crash fatality: fast, efficient, choked with carnage, and over within minutes once the last of the lifeblood empties the human host. However, the Floridians are also equipped with some variation in the slower grooves of the title track, or the crushing chug-thrashers "Compulsive" and "VII".
Roddy is both renowned and reviled as a mercenary of the form, yet he's nonetheless a maniac to experience on most fronts. There is certainly some value to tuning out the rather monotonous vocals of Blachowicz and the underwhelming guitars and just reveling at the sheer strength and ability this guy brings to the table. But Scott Burns also does it justice for the most part, giving these hymns the murderous eminence they deserve. In Cold Blood might just be the most focused and destructive album for Malevolent Creation at the point of its release, a band on a mission to match fist for fist with the more extreme acts of their day, an inverse of the the lockup and aging that other bands might have experienced. Unfortunately, its qualities just do not hold up to many repeated listens. The guitars unanimously filter through the ears of the listener and back into the malicious atmosphere. Its almost as if this were the blueprint for non-distinction in US death of the nineties (though the aforementioned Fetus and Bleeding performed with the same forceful ennui), another pummeling poster child for my enduring theory that brutality simply is not everything, in death metal or anywhere else.
Holy boobie fucking Jesus, this album tore my head off and more or less defecated down my esophagal passage the first time I heard it about ten years ago, and it still crushes my nards and makes me its bitch to this day. Thirteen tracks of ferocious, speedy death metal awaits the lucky recipient of what is probably Malevolent Creation's most violent release to date.
This offering from MC is markedly different from their other releases. Part of that can be attributed to the personnel on board "In Cold Blood" (from this point to be referred to as ICB). Drummer Derik Roddy (who needs no introduction), and guitarist John Paul Soars (who would later form Divine Empire with ICB's lineup sans Phil) make their first and only appearance on a Malevolent Creation album. The production is also different, being pretty bass-heavy, though not quite "Litany" level. This was also one of Scott Burns' last production jobs and it fits the whole feeling of crushing brutality we have on offer here. It's clear enough to hear all the instruments though the bass can be hard to hear.
Phil and J.P. crank out some nasty riffage that is bludgeoning and even catchy in places (see the last minute of "Vision of Malice"), Jason's vocals are deep and basically pissed off sounding and does utilize some higher screams but his bass is low in the mix, though his lines at the beginning of "Seven" does a great job of leading into the riff that follows. Derik shows that he did indeed have some variation in his playing before going the nonstop blastbeat bit in Hate Eternal, but he does tend to favor blasts over slower beats here. Still his work here is pretty impressive.
Songwise, ICB is not too varied with nearly all the songs fitting into the categories "faster" and "much faster". The only really slow crushing number is the title track, which is also the longest song here and has a nice solo a little more than halfway through. Most of the other tracks here are warp speed or a tad slower. Opener "Nocturnal Overload" opens with a scream and a blast before Jason starts spewing words about soldiers going off to war. "Compulsive" features some good drumwork and a nice solo. I'm not sure who does which solos on In Cold Blood, as they're not credited in the liner notes, but they shred just the same. "Vision of Malice" as mentioned before, has some really catchy riffs and some pounding double bass work while "Preyed Upon" is probably the best song on offer here and the most varied, featuring a couple solos, blistering drumwork and some violent lyrics ("Bare hands that broke your neck...and smashed your FUCKING SKULL!!!!"). Finally, "Seizure" ends the disc and is the fastest song here, the riffs are dizzying in nature and the drums somehow keeping up.
With thirteen tracks on ICB, it can be alot to take in, especially as there is no acoustics to give you a break from the brutality. As a whole, ICB clocks in at 42 minutes and change, which is perfect in my humble opinion for this type of violence. Those of you that lean more towards pre-2000 death metal should get this, as your metal boner should be sated.
Once again Malevolent Creation changed line-up for another effort. Fasciana still remains the leader in this band while we can find for the second time Jason Blachowicz at the vocals. By the way, the real deal is the newcomer behind the drums, Derek Roddy. Yes, that Derek Roddy who played in several death bands and that now we find here too. He does an excellent work on this new album even if Culross wasn’t an easy drummer to replace in terms of technique and speed, but we all know the goodness of the newcomer. He’s brutal and relentless like few others and his style is perfect for an album like In Cold Blood, where everything seems even faster.
Thirteen tracks for 40 minutes of music should be representative of the power and speed by this band. Many of the new tracks are bone and skin in the structures and this is symptomatic of an acquired violence. “Nocturnal Overload” and “Prophecy” display clearly what we are facing: brutal death metal with suffocated, extreme vocals. The drumming is various, technical and precise. What I really like here is the way Derek does the long rolls on the drums and the way he plays the bass one. The guitars lines are corrosive, low-tunes and nasty, while the prevalent technique is for the tremolo picking that is perfect for its burden of heaviness and darkness.
The production is a bit different from the previous Eternal album and everything sounds sharper. We can say that is a way between Eternal and the old albums. The vocals are preponderant here and they are really powerful in volumes, but the drums sound is always well audible as well as the guitars lines. The gun shots effects at the beginning of “Compulsive” are stuck in the guitars riffs and the up tempo parts are now the main style, with lots of fast bass drum restarts. I think that the only tracks that differ a bit here are the title track and “Preyed Upon”; the rest is on sheer fast brutality and features great drumming by Derek, in constant switch between the up tempo and the blast beats.
As I was saying, the title track shows some more “modern” riffs. They are a bit groove at the beginning, to turn into something more normal for this band. By the way, the tempo is not so obsessively fast like in the other tracks and the structure is more complex and long. It’s always good to notice that the riffs are always present, even during this mid-paced episode. “Prayed Upon” is a bit more schizophrenic in the rhythmic riffage but everything is always less fast at the beginning, to turn into blast beats or up tempo parts. Here the vocals pass quite easily from some more screamed parts to change a bit of tonality.
This album is a truly return to sheer violence for Malevolent Creation. All the tracks, except for the ones I said, are fucking fast and brutal. A certain lack of extremely good songwriting is to notice in few cases. The riffs are sometimes too similar and the structures are rarely innovative or catchy. I know it’s death metal but other albums have catchier structures, even being always brutal. By the way, this album is a safe shelter for those who search for sheer brutality and it’s a thing to enjoy about.
Malevolent Creation’s “In Cold Blood” is both musically and lyrically a departure from their older albums like the “Ten Commandments” and “Retribution”. This album and “Eternal” show a massive lineup change, most notably bassist Jason Blachowicz taking over the lyric writing and screaming. Unlike the previous vocalist, Brett Hoffman, Blachowicz has a lifeless, drab and entirely monotonous vocal performance. While it fits this album’s music better, there’s no question Brett Hoffman was the best vocalist for this band. That being said, Blachowicz’s grunts are very cold and come from the stomach, and despite being generic it’s a very scary and evil sounding delivery. Filling Dave Culross’s shoes, which is a very difficult task, is Derik Roddy. His drumming skills are incredible; he relentlessly pounds on the snare while performing incredible double bass blasts. John Paul Soars plays the guitar along with the band’s only original member, Phil Fasciana. Phil’s playing changes from Malevolent Creation release to release, and here he’s written some very memorable choppy and rhythm based riffs. They are much lower pitched compared to the later releases of the band, but of course they’re still very heavy and catchy. Between the very hot-leveled mix courtesy of Scott Burns, choppy riffs, different vocalist and lyrics this does not sound like a typical Malevolent Creation release. Nevertheless, it’s a very well played and makes for an exciting listen.
Some of the album’s highlights are “Compulsive” which starts off with a great sound effect (gunfire?) and “Narcotic Genocide”. Both of these songs have pretty well written death metal lyrics, “Compulsive” is a song about a backstabbing friend and “Narcotic Genocide” is about, obviously, a drug abuser. Almost of the lyrics are very critical and hate filled, and from the sounds of his voice and lyrics “I will make you bleed/Killing is my game” Blachowicz is not a man to anger. The album’s strongest track is “In Cold Blood”, a mid-paced song with an infectious riff and despite the monotony of his vocals, a very memorable vocal line.
Although it’s not a typical MC release, it’s very well played and very memorable. No points have been taken off for very similar strong structures and the lack of change from song to song, because after all, that’s what Malevolent Creation stands for. Dependable, memorable, expertly played, and above all, heavy. This is a great release from a great band.