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Thou Shall Not Suck - 78%

DawnoftheShred, May 20th, 2009

If each metal genre had its own set of commandments, Malevolent Creation would appear to be saints, as they do their best to follow all of the precepts of death metal piety. They got Scott Burns to produce this, their debut record. They got Dan Seagrave to do the cover art. They’ve got wordy, ambiguous song titles and a spiky logo. They got a guy in the band named Hoffmann. And rather than decide between writing gore lyrics or attacking religious and/or social constructs, they do both. However the most important Commandment, for any genre really, is thus: Thou Shall Not Suck. And like your average, semi-devout churchgoer with the biblical Ten, Malevolent Creation follow this most of the time; only a handful of failures have they to repent come monthly confession.

The Ten Commandments features ten tracks (shocking coincidence really) of thrashy death metal. You know, the kind that you’d find on an early Deicide record. In fact, Malevolent Creation are mechanically similar to their fellow Floridians in riff execution, vocal arrangements, and overall sound. MC have them beat in the lead guitar department, but lose out overall through lack of subtlety. The listener, however modestly educated in death metal’s aesthetics, should be able to begin predicting when the band will insert a blast section before the album’s end: they almost always precede them with a fast guitar break. Rarely does the music catch you off guard or challenge convention, as it’s just early 90’s death metal at its most blatant.

Predictability aside, they’re actually a competent bunch. The instrumental prowess of the band is at the very least equal to their peers and they actually are at their best when playing at mid-paced (or slower) tempos, as evidenced by that killer mosh break in “Sacrificial Annihilation.” The vocalist is also obviously committed to the effort, delivering one of the livelier performances I’ve heard on any death metal album. As for the track-list, there’s no room reserved for any sort of less-than-brutal nonsense, though they do introduce the album in a unique fashion. “Memorial Arrangements” is just a slow, funeral procession of a riff-set with spoken word introduction. It actually sets the mood for a much slower album (like a Sorrow record, perhaps) but it works out just fine as the prelude to 30+ minutes of raging death metal. Remember kids, variety isn’t something to shake a stick at; it’s going to bring out the best in your core sound.

So although The Ten Commandments suffers a bit from one-dimensionality and some average moments, it is still a spirited example of early death metal proper. Not exactly an essential record for the lot of us, but for those who live and breathe old-school death metal, this record will likely command a place of honor in your collection.