Sound — 9
Reading-based metallers Malefice are back and better than ever with their explosive fifth album "Five", released on April 28th via Transcend Records. It hasn't even been two years since their last offering in the form of the album "Awaken The Tides" (2011), but yet again, the five-piece have pulled out all the stops to produce another amazing record full of raw power, energy and "in your face" attitude. 2012 was a busy year for Malefice from recording the brutal single "Omega" with football legend Marcus Hahnemann, to opening Bloodstock Festival. As if that wasn't enough, the band topped it off by signing to their new label Transcend Records and even had to adjust to a change in the line-up, with the introduction of new guitarist Andrew Wilson but despite all this, they've managed to write and record some of their best material to date. "Five" is taking a step away from the band's heavier roots showcased on their earlier albums and incorporating a more melodic side to the songwriting. This comes as an unexpected, yet very welcome surprise, as Malefice tend to have have a rare talent for being able to write both heavy, brutal thrash metal riffs and beautiful clean guitar melodies equally well - and sometimes even combine the two seamlessly. As such, its pleasing to see the band realise and build upon this especially as so many bands these days struggle to strike a good balance between the two.
Lyrics — 8
But this doesn't, by any means, mean that the album is softer in any sense. Vocalist Dale Butler had this to say about the new record: "After being written off we're back to where we thrive the most. Being the underdog. We've always delivered something new and exciting in adversity and this time is no exception. The changes we have made have given us time to regroup and reinvent the sound of this band. Expect more bounce than ever, more hate than ever and more soul than ever. This is a record of feelings, how we are, where we want to be and where we will get to. This is the album we always wanted to write, where the evolution has taken us and has renewed our "take no prisoners" attitude. All music is a personal statement, this is our statement that no matter what, nothing can hold us back, nothing will keep us down and together we can, will and have survived all the bullshit thrown at us. This record represents everything we are as a collective and as individuals." While "Five" is only seven tracks in length, it is by no means lacking in any of the components it takes to create an amazing album. Dale's vocals are on form, Andrew has brought a new sound and level of creativity to the band, and now, with this new definitive line-up, Malefice are evolving and have created a completely new sound for the band.
Overall Impression — 10
So to recap, the new direction Malefice have taken, and the way they've done so on the new record is amazing. They're great at both heavy, brutal metal, but also at beautiful clean melodies and harmonic guitar solos - now both of their best aspects have been combined. They've perfectly incorporated more melodic harmonies while still keeping everything heavy as f--k and retaining their own recognisable sound. If this album were stolen/lost, I'd definitely buy another copy. The strongest tracks (or at least the most catchy from what I can tell from the previews) will be "V" and "Reach Up" - but that's down to individual opinion. Five already has my vote as being a strong contender for my favourite album of 2013, but don't just take my word for it have a listen and decide for yourself. You can listen to previews of the new tracks and order "Five" now via iTunes.