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Malefice - "Awaken The Tides" (CD)

Malefice - "Awaken The Tides" CD cover image

"Awaken The Tides" track listing:

1. Awaken The Tides (4:44)
2. Delirium (4:14)
3. Dead in the Water (3:50)
4. Minutes (5:30)
5. Baying for Blood (5:31)
6. Blessed Curse (4:22)
7. The Day the sky Fell (5:07)
8. Outnumbered, Outgunned (3:52)
9. Flood of Red (5:03)
10. The Haunting (9:55)

Reviewed by on October 27, 2011

"Malefice came to us as a clever, smart, and modern metalcore hero. The band left as just another run-of-the-mill deathcore-lite group..."

When I reviewed Malefice’s Metal Blade debut “Dawn of Reprisal” back in March of 2009, I noted that “Between all the spectacular and crushing riffs, the rays of sunlight just breaking through are what set this album above other metalcore,” and that it was “an excellent metalcore album that should be the springboard for the band.” Boy howdy, was I wrong. The follow-up, “Awaken the Tides,” has little of what made “Dawn of Reprisal” so good.

The title track and album opener sets the tone for the rest of the album, as there is a blast beat about 22 seconds in. While blast beats make only a couple other appearances outside of the title track, it is clear that Malefice has moved in a different direction – deathcore-lite. This is a shame, as Malefice isn’t much good at death metal, and that single, dominating note mars what good elements are in place.

The title track has a nice change-of-pace solo and decent breakdown, but otherwise the blast beats and vocalist Dale Butler’s strained death-ish shout dominate the monotonous exercise. The same for the next song, “Delirium;” Butler again can’t carry much with his shout - he really sounds pressed to keep up with the downtuned chugs now - and only another decent solo and haunting keyboard overlay save this track from being a total loss.

“Dead In The Water” fades out like it was a mosh pit epic with dudes back slapping each other in camaraderie, but really it was one decent breakdown away from the trash bin. “Minutes” starts with a cool layered guitar intro, but the minute Butler’s (now extremely strained) yell starts, it is clear that this is a trumped up Linkin Park ballad. Even the jump shift to a contemplative melancholy solo and then yells-over-solos-over-breakdowns can’t save it from the horrid first half.

But the worst bit is this isn’t just an addition of new material - Malefice has lost most of everything that made “Dawn of Reprisal” so good. The subtle shifts in tempo and key, the clean vocals (seriously), any variation or range from Butler, the guitar interplay in both riffs and solos, the clever song arrangements that rammed disparate musical themes together to form enticing combinations – it’s all gone. “Awaken the Tides” is a straightforward deathcore-lite basher, and it is also, dare I say, dumber, than “Dawn of Reprisal,” which despite its tough guy sheen was a very smart album. There are some good moments here and there - “Outnumbered, Outgunned” is pretty good – but not enough to counter the pervasive death bore.

Whether Malefice made this change of artistic direction because the band was a metalcore miscreant hunted down by the scene police, or with free will as free men, it is a loss for the rest of us. Malefice came to us as a clever, smart, and modern metalcore hero. The band left as just another run-of-the-mill deathcore-lite group, peacocking qualities it does not have. So it goes, I guess.

Highs: “Outnumbered, Outgunned” is short and well done ‘core.

Lows: “Minutes” is a long and banal ballad.

Bottom line: Potential from previous album is squandered with a stylistic shift toward deathcore.

Rated 1.5 out of 5 skulls
1.5 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)