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Roll out the dead carpet - 75%

autothrall, January 18th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Century Media Records

Dead Man's Path is likely to go down as a fond remembrance as the last Malevolent Creation record fronted by the band's late growler adept Brett Hoffman, but it should also go down as being one of their better offerings, reaching far into the past for the pummeling death thrash of The Ten Commandments, but also taking a few chances on something a little outside their typical wheelhouse. In full disclosure, while this a band I've long respected since their inception on the burgeoning Florida scene decades past, they've never quite been a favorite. I largely consider the 1991 debut to be their best, but then again they've put out a pretty long string of albums that turn out 'decently' if not really inspiring beyond the violent moshing primacy that they espouse.

Dead Man's Path is that and a fraction more. You're still getting the same, machine gun battery driven blend of roiling blasts and breakdowns, smothered in Hoffman's sustained snarls and growls, but I find something mildly more atmospheric than their norm. Perhaps this is anchored by the opening title track, a slow, doomed build which uses strange narrated vocals which almost sound like the guy has some sort of strange accent...ascending into these atonal, but memorable guitar harmonies. But it's also through the confidence and certainty with which they execute the heavier shit through the rest of the proceedings. Few if any of these riffs are of the variety you've never heard before, and they're just as predictable as you might believe, but the production and balance of speed and groove here are very well managed, and it remains pretty exciting throughout. Tracks like "Corporate Weaponry" are able to develop strong lead guitars, melodies in the verse and chorus riffing as well as a nihilistic, warlike atmosphere somewhere between Bolt Thrower and their own Warkult.

Hoffman effortlessly shifts between a number of different harsh vocal timbres, without ever coming off as too overbearing or jarring in their transitions. It sounds exactly like a bunch of psychos having a board meeting over the apocalypse should sound, and he dials it back often to let those guitars breathe their necrotic tremolo picked nightmares. The bass has just the right level of bombast and swerve to it to carry the rhythms, and Justin DiPinto puts on an almost untouchable performance behind the kit, one that would probably still be fun to listen to if you muted the other instruments. It's almost a pinnacle of Malevolent Creation professionalism, an exhibition of their better qualities across a quarter century of writing, recording and touring. Don't get me wrong, this album is still pit ready enough to sate the barbaric lusts of the hardcore and 2nd tier death metal fanatics looking for a fight, but as the closure to such a massive chapter of the band's history, it's worthwhile, and their best material in at least the decade leading up to it.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

A path for those worth taking - 96%

slayrrr666, June 6th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Century Media Records

With a legacy back to the genre’s inception, Floridian death metal legends Malevolent Creation have endured harder and longer than most with one of the strongest collection of albums in the scene that truly continues on here. Graced with returning drummer Justin DiPinto and a charged focus in the five-year gap between releases, the groups’ celebrated twelfth full-length album is released October 2, 2015 on new label Century Media.

As is to be expected here, this one is a crushingly heavy and dynamic old-school style death metal album straight from the swamps of Florida, giving this a mostly stereotypical sound and approach. The album has the rabid, fervent near-thrash riffing that manages to evoke plenty of technically-proficient rhythms and ferocious charging patterns that are given plenty of room to breathe within the tight patterns. This old-school approach is quite prominent as the band dives through rabid thrash rhythms at frantic tempos, and is merged with a tight backbone of sprawling tempos to offset the aggression with deep, churning riff-work and relentless drumming. This is the essential part of the band’s core sound where it's a strong overall mixture between the rabid thrashing with some crushingly heavy yet slowed down rhythms that give their riffing plenty of room to breathe and yet still remain a vital part of their charge as it all wraps itself within that identifiable tone in the music featuring the agonized swampy patterns of the genre’s creators. With such a strong, even mixture between these styles and generating quite an enjoyable attack by alternating these tempos so well in the running order that the album tends to swarm through its paces with seeming ease, it’s quite an effective blast that offers up very little to dislike overall here except in one minor area that continually showcases itself in the music. This one is so strongly and effectively evocative of their sound that it’s really hard to tell the tracks apart at times as they loose themselves within that familiar blur of swampy riffing and technical thrashing that’s been a part of their work from the beginning, and it can cause this to drop off at times. Still, it barely registers at all and doesn’t impact it much.

By getting this overall stylistic and fervent approach to the forefront in yet another utterly strong and dominating release, there’s so little to dislike here which mainly comes from being too similar to their past works that it still remains a top choice for any fervent fan of their past catalog, old-school death aficionados or those looking for more of the same from these legends.