Reading’s Malefice have done exactly as their new album title would suggest. Previously faring well in their maniacal mix of death metal, thrash and all things tagged with a ‘core’ label, the five-piece band have literally woken on their musical journey to cause a tidal rift in their discography.
Awaken The Tides has a stamped mark of originality that sets it apart from other undeveloped metal acts, modestly boasting a wealth of mature technicality whilst making light work of finding those crucial melodies.
Admittedly, with hindsight, it’s fair to say that their first few tracks on the record aren’t their strongest and it’s from the mid-section of this fourth attempt that can be appreciated most. This is when unexpected ambient, dreamy interludes begin to emerge from the hard framework of thumping breaks and cracking melodeath guitar lines. It’s certainly refreshing to hear such ambitious sounds.
Blessed Cursed has massive bridges of breakdown near the end, but it’s the even bigger chorus that keeps the song on course for a spot on the highlight reel. As the outro fades beautifully into The Day The Sky Fell, the sounds of sirens serenading back a building military snare, eventually culminating in one of their most accessible songs to date – dare I say it’s ballady?
It might be their viscous breaks that allow them to slip briefly into a ‘core’ categorisation, but look past the stigma, because essentially Malefice can soak up the lead-weight and charisma of the genre and project it into something much more exciting.
Vocals are executed with a thrashy attitude but often backed by destructive gutturals, providing an interesting balance. An element of synth-experimentation also makes things slightly more epic sounding – Flood Of Red being the best example of the power they can garner from exploring such avenues. The Haunting finishes Awaken The Tides with an acoustic reflective ending, whisked smoothly by Dale Butler’s soft yet husky pipes.