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The Ten Commandments (1991)

Malevolent Creation's debut L.P. was released by R/C Records, in April 1991. With The Ten Commandments, the band delved deeper into death metal, though without completely shedding their thrash roots. The overall result is a rather average and monotonous album, with fewer highs than lows, and utterly pales in comparison to other releases from this year; e.g. Dismember's Like an Ever Flowing Stream, Butchered at Birth from Cannibal Corpse, of the various debut full-lengths from the likes of Darkthrone, Edge of Sanity, Sentenced, Grave, Asphyx, Unleashed or even the flawed sophomore effort from Morbid Angel, Blessed are the Sick.

The first strike against this album is easily detectable before even pressing play, as the liner notes indicate that this was recorded at Morrisound and produced by Scott Burns. As one would expect from this, The Ten Commandments possesses a very flat and lifeless sound. Considering the fact that much of the record is dull and forgettable, this only exacerbates the issue. The songwriting is often uninspired and feels random, with many riffs seemingly interchangeable. The only song to really stand out from the rest is "Premature Burial", which is undoubtedly the strongest offering on this L.P. Following the doom-laden "Memorial Arrangements", the first real song bursts forth with very palpable fury. That track features dynamic songwriting, memorable riffs and enough testosterone to kill a horse. Afterward, it is like the band went on auto-pilot and are just going through the motions for the rest of Side A. Not only are the compositions below-average, to go along with the generic production, but even the performance feels lackluster. Tracks like "Remnants of Withered Decay", "Multiple Stab Wounds" and "Impaled Existence" are tedious to listen to, failing to offer the same kind of intensity and aggression as "Premature Burial". It should also go without saying that there is hardly a trace of dark atmosphere to be found throughout most of the songs.

As well, the vocals are often pretty annoying. Hoffman's voice sounds strained and keeps going from the harsher death metal vocals to more of a thrash metal vocal style, as he utilized on the previous demo. Once in a while, this variation works in some way, but it is rather annoying for the most part. It's made worse by the fact that there are too many lyrics and it sounds like he is struggling to squeeze a novel's worth of text into a three or four-minute song. As a result, the vocal patterns are cluttered and ineffective.

Side B picks up a bit, though slowly. "Thou Shall Kill!" is only mildly interesting, while the thrashier approach of "Sacrificial Annihilation" helps to demonstrate where the band's true calling lies. They were much better off mixing the Slayer and Dark Angel influences with death metal, rather than attempting to focus solely on the latter. "Decadence Within" is one of the better ones on here, though the bar was set pretty low with the previous five songs. While the re-recorded version of "Injected Sufferage" (from the 1989 demo) is pretty decent, my personal preference would have been to include "Epileptic Seizure". The closer, "Malevolent Creation", is probably the second-best song on the whole album. It featu res some epic riffs and goes on to remind the listener of the intensity that this band is capable of, when inspired.

From the very first time that I ever heard The Ten Commandments, til this very day, my overall impression is one of disappointment and wasted potential. Even if the whole record could have at least maintained the consistency of Side B, it would have been an uphill battle. Already, by 1991, the death metal scene was flooded with tons of bands that were much better than Malevolent Creation. These guys were average at best and follow-up albums like Retribution and Stillborn, illustrated just why their name does not merit mention alongside the luminaries of the genre.
(11 May 2017)


Malevolent Creation's sophomore effort, Retribution, was released in April 1992. By this point, death metal had exploded in such a manner that far too many bands were overflowing into the scene, most of them just incredibly mediocre. I recall hearing this band's name mentioned along the likes of Death, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Deicide and so on, all those years ago. This album, in particular, received high praise every time. Yet, when I got my hands on the cassette version of this album, it just fell flat.

The majority of the music here is quite dull and pointless. The Ten Commandments didn't feature much that was worth remembering, outside of the intense "Premature Burial". However, Retribution is an even more tedious listening chore. One of the things that differentiates metal from simple rock music has always been the emphasis placed on the riffs, generally with most bands having two guitarists. Nonetheless, neither Rob Barrett nor Phil Fasciania are the stars of this production. Neither is Brett Hoffmann (whose voice is fairly good but still displays no talent for making the vocals properly fit the music). No, the central figure of Malevolent Creation's second L.P. is the drummer, Alex Marquez.

This entire album is ruined because of the immensely overactive percussion. death metal is supposed to create a dark atmosphere; instead, Retribution offers useless groove riffs and breakdowns and criminal overuse of double bass that undermines most of the very few decent riffs that did manage to slip onto this record. Tracks like "The Coldest Survive", "Mindlocked" and "Iced" are a bit more primitive and straightforward than most of the rest, certainly the best parts of this album, yet the drums still do their best to spoil things as much as possible.

Of course, the list of complaints could not be complete without mentioning the absolutely atrocious Morrisound production job. This possesses the same generic, sterile sound as almost every other album recorded there during this period. To hear a random snippet from Retribution, without vocals, one would be hard-pressed to correctly identify the band. With the likes of Obituary, Death, Pestilence, Napalm Death and others all recording at the same studio and having their works wrecked by incompetent hands of Scott Burns, it all just blends together. Coupled with the fact that their songwriting is sub-par, it's no surprise that Malevolent Creation never managed to reach the same heights as some of their peers.

Many cite Stillborn as the point when Malevolent Creation proved their ineptitude, but it was already on full display, here. Death metal is not supposed to be driven forward by the percussion, with the guitars taking on a supporting role. Retribution might be best used as a gateway album to gently lure Pantera fans into harder music, but it is entirely worthless to those seeking pure death metal. Avoid this garbage.
(9 Mar. 2017)

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