Thursday, May 11, 2017

Malevolent Creation - 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 did not merit mention alongside the luminaries of the genre.