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Malefice - "Dawn Of Reprisal" (CD)

Malefice - "Dawn Of Reprisal" CD cover image

"Dawn Of Reprisal" track listing:

1. The Midas Effect
2. Abandon Hope
3. An Architect Of Your Demise
4. End Of Days
5. Human Portrait
6. As I Bleed
7. When Embers Ignite
8. Retribution
9. Hatred Justified
10. Sickened

Reviewed by on March 30, 2009

"Fast guitar chords, guttural growls and shrieks, and active drums under it all make for a solid album; but it’s the repeated spins that really bring out the quality."

The word malefice means “an evil deed – the actions of a person who does harm or evil.” Malefice the band is quite the opposite. With booming riffs, heal-shorn growls, and a good sense of subtlety, Malefice has created an excellent record in “Dawn of Reprisal.”

The thing that immediately stands out is the solid metalcore execution. Fast guitar chords, guttural growls and shrieks, and active drums under it all make for a solid album; but it’s the repeated spins that really bring out the quality.

The guitar work is quite good as Ben Symons and Alex Vuskans often outdo themselves. “An Architect of Your Demise” is an excellent example. It starts with syncopated riffs being swapped between Symons and Vuskans, setting the song on a subtly off-kilter theme. The easy movement from straight counted chords to quick syncopation throughout is also very nicely done. The real key, however, is how Symons and Vuskans change a seemingly simple base throughout the song; constantly modifying key, tempo, and rhythm around the main musical theme to take the listener through a dizzying maze of riffs.

“End of Days” features a killer extended break with simultaneous fret-tapping and chugging chords bringing the two very separate portions of the song together seamlessly, with each element representing one of the parts. “Hatred Justified” moves easily from metalcore to breaks that are almost alternative and back again, making the whole thing seem natural. The solo on “Hatred Justified” is restrained and is an excellent counterpoint to the harder parts of the song. The whole record is littered with quick leads and overlaid solos that highlight or break certain sections.

The vocals of Dale Butler are also not to be overlooked. He stays mostly in a standard mid-range metalcore growl, but he demonstrates enough range to keep it interesting. He has a decent clean singing voice, which he uses effectively a few times. He can also bring his growl quite low as well, and uses it to highlight certain sections.

The guitars and vocals are definitely the focus of the group, as the bass and drums are mixed quite a ways back and they often get lost. Tom Hynes (bass) and Craig Thomas (drums) are precise, and it’s a shame we don’t hear more of them. Thomas in particular brings the goods, using quite an array of rhythms and arrangements, but it’s buried under the avalanche of guitars and vocals.

Malefice is very good at laying down heavy metalcore, but the highlights are the breakdowns, solos, and direction changes. Between all the spectacular and crushing riffs, the rays of sunlight just breaking through are what set this album above other metalcore. Malefice never overplays their hand, and always leave the listener wanting more. The outro to the last track “Sickened” is the highlight. Just as it seems the song has turned a new way it fades to nothingness. The listener is left feeling empty and the only way to be satiated is to spin the disc again.

Highs: The guitar work on the breakdowns and solos highlight a strong effort from the whole band.

Lows: The straight metalcore sometimes doesn’t bite as hard as it should.

Bottom line: An excellent metalcore album that should be the springboard for the band.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)