Malevolent Creation

support De Profundis
author EW date 19/08/14 venue Underworld, London, UK

Arriving at the Underworld early on this pleasant late summer’s evening as I duly did in order to interview De Profundis, it quickly came apparent that this wasn’t going to be the most heavily populated gig of the year. With 7pm doors fast approaching and a queue of 5 awaiting, ready to sprint in for reasons I don’t understand, the lure of death metal stalwarts Malevolent Creation plus tour support act De Profundis, themselves a London act, was clearly not enough to shift many of the £18 tickets. To not add a third band, especially so considering the frequency with which most here will have seen DP, was especially poor on behalf of the show’s promoters and so as it was, at 8.15pm, our opening act strolled on to face 100 people (if I’m being generous).

De Profundis

To their credit, having travelled all the way down from the previous night’s show in Glasgow for this one De Profundis are in good spirits and perform their increasingly sophisticated and recognisable progressive death metal sound with admirable energy and conviction. On paper their participation in this tour beneath the more straight ahead DM onslaught of Malevolent Creation appeared an odd one, but as the increasing level of Death-isms in their new and more accessible EP "Frequencies" attests, this band are capable of delivering the goods, sans frills, when they want. This contrast was very apparent from the more complex, progressive structures of the likes of "Twisted Landscapes" and "Delirium" from "The Emptiness Within" to what was to follow later in the evening; these belligerent yet melodically inclined tracks require great performance skill from the band, especially fretless bassist Arran McSporran, to be reproduced effectively and it is to their credit this is always the case. Of course this would all be rendered useless with an incoherent sound, but with the Underworld being one of the most reliable small venues on the London metal circuit these days for such matters there is little to worry about here as all members are refreshingly clear in the mix.

Including their cover of Death's "Crystal Mountain" no doubt caught the attention of anyone not aware of DP's own material, although I felt the performance of it could have been slowed a little to let Chuck's effervescent guitar lines sing their true glory. However topped off by a very admirable level of energy from a band of their genre it is hard to be too critical of this performance, even if a relative few were there to witness it.

Malevolent Creation

At their best - arguably 1991’s debut LP "The Ten Commandments" - Floridians Malevolent Creation struck a deathly blow not far off the power of their stately cousins, but a combination of inconsistency, countless lineup changes, supposed 'murder' and homophobic (unrelated incidents those two) controversies have hurt the appeal of Phil Fasciana & co. Still, the band persevere and in 2010’s "Invidious Dominion" have a very solid last album to fall back on, a fact they did not waste in this performance.

The band look every bit the grizzled US death metal road warriors one would expect them to: that is, the opposite of the theatrical of more modern flavours, strident in dirty old band clothing and unwashed attitudes. They sure ain't pretty, much like their music, but they also aren't that personable. Bassist Jason Blachowicz spent most moments between songs giving the middle finger to anyone and everyone (and not, I sensed, in an ironic manner. More in the "wow, he really is a dickhead" manner.) while vocalist Brett Hoffmann limited his announcements to the usual array of swear words and banal stage protestations. Clearly MC are not going for the "Most Enjoyable" performance award, although thankfully scything renditions of "Antagonized" and “Eve of the Apocalypse" made up for any lacking joie de vivre from the band's personality. Their sound was not as a crisp as that which DP enjoyed meaning that at times the hurtling pandemonium of Fasciana & Gio Geraca’s high-tempo riffs got lost in the mix, but the bristling intent and ugly demeanour of each track never felt lost. The consistency of the band’s back catalogue was displayed by how well newer material mixed with older classic -“ Envenomed""s “Homicidal Rant"” and "The Ten Commandment"'s "Multiple Stab Wounds", two in particular which demonstrate how MC sat just across the border in death metal territory to the extreme thrash of bands like Dark Angel and Demolition Hammer in the late '80s.

The Malevolent Creation live experience offers nothing revelatory or awe-inspiring, but such acclaims never have been afforded the band. They were, and are, inferior to more illustrious names of past and present but they also offer a reminder that death metal in one of it's earliest incarnations remains untamed, unprogressive and unkind and for those less salubrious needs does this band fully justify their existence.

All photos taken by Teodora Dani.

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