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Incredible - 99%

transientblur, December 6th, 2003

Retribution usually makes it to the single digits on death metal Top 20 lists, and with good reason. Everything about this release is excellent, from the cover artwork to the booklet to the cd design, and that's not even mentioning the music. The band was at their top form here, more relaxed compared to their first cd, The Ten Commandments, and definately more tight compared to their next sloppy release Stillborn (I'll avoid pointing out the irony on that title). Although the band was having some difficulty with singer Brett Hoffman, he is in excellent vocal shape. While Jason's bass isn't heard at all, guitarists Phil Fasciana and Rob Barrett (pre Cannibal Corpse) are both harmonize very well. The drummer Alex Marquez also delivers tight and heavy rhythms.

The first song, "Eve of the Apocolypse" starts off with a slightly irritating keyboard and drum intro, but after the suspense is done building, it launches into a 3 minute death metal frenzy. The vocals are lower then on their later releases (with Brett) but are still fairly easy to decipher. Unlike the next few singers the band would go through, Brett makes vocal harmonies with the guitars, weaving his voice around the already insane riffing of Phil and Rob. This makes for much more catchy songs and which makes the entire release easy to sing (or scream) along too. "Systematic Execution" is perhaps the albums wekaest song, and even though it's fast and heavy it lacks the emotion of the other songs. The third track, "Slaughter of Innocence" is my favorite on the album. It starts off with a thrashy, plodding riff which is soon sped up and altered slightly. The vocal delivery is spot on, and Brett does his trademark "from the belly" scream for a few seconds around 2 minutes in. Even though the song is played at an astounding pace, it's still very easy to listen to and memorable. The album then slows down at track 4, with "Coronation of Our Demise". This is an interesting track because it shows their slower and choppier side. Definately a must hear, and no, it's not slow as in "Day of Lamentation" slow. "No Flesh Shall Be Spared" is another mid-tempo song, but fear not, the band picks up speed again with the stellar "The Coldest Survive". "Monster" is an aptly named track, sounding like the score to a horror movie. Yet another song showcasing the incredible songwriting skill of guitarist Phil, "Mindlock" is another metal masterpiece with a "singalong" chorus. Marquez is a drumming machine on this one! Unfortunately the cd is now almost over, wrapping up with "Iced" which an extremely angry sounding headbanger. The best part is the ending, featuring who I think is Brett, talking about drug use. I won't give away what he says, but it's great.

Malevolent Creation were at their best here, from lineup to musical ability, and it shows. This an absolute must have, and even though it's out of print, get one off of ebay. 34 minutes of absolute genious.