Malison - Malison

Malison cover
Malison
Malison
Combat Records
2018
5.5
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A money tunnel crawl away from squalid and nefarious Tijuana is San Diego’s Malison, a Maiden-ishly melodic albeit caustic and saturnine trad metal trio, which furtively crept out of the shadows with its titular, eight tracked debut full-length released in early June under Combat Records, the raucously familiar Brooklyn based mainstay behind a pan-alphabetic slew of classic heavy-hitting gems by the likes of Anthrax, Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Death, Exodus and so forth.
 
Much like Montreal’s Metalian, Halifax’s Black Moor and the exalted, femme fronted Victoria formation, Unleash The Archers, Malison heartily wear its influences on its sleeve, so while it’s easy to peg the So Cal revivalists as just another Maiden/Priest/Helloween facsimile, one can’t help but sense kinks are still in the process of being sorted out, chops, honed feverishly, volition, undeterred. In other words, although this here thirty-five minute fraternization does a fine job of penetrating an ever-expanding global metal scene, it glaringly lacks the kind of magical spark and lift which compels blithe, ineluctable returns.
 
Discounting said auspicious label union, and following a solid, as well as “un-reprised” quarter hour sneak-preview EP from 2015 titled “Impulses”, Malison proper assiduously has its moments, such as the lugubriously catchy and sumptuously arranged, introspective opener, “Beyond the Sun”, which, with its vigorously surging introductory solo, musically parallels Forensick’s “Doomsday Machine” (a melodiously hooking jewel in its own right) or the dazzling neo-classical, UTA styled guitar harmonies at the behest of six-minute swansong, “Seeker”. Both tracks surely constitute live staples alongside 2015’s “Elusion”, a majestically shredding and downwind fist-pumper which I feel duly merits an encore, studio wise.
 
Without wishing to offend however, a couple particularly veer towards mediocrity. These would be the vainly laborious and haphazard namesake, as well as mundanely thrash-y mid-point buzzkill, “Death Crawlers”. The less said the better; at best, they sound like vigorously aimless, around-the-bush-beating practice sessions.
 
The former’s crankily exotic riffing and blast-beat infused histrionics – vocally, the chorus is not pretty, either! – as well as disarrayed, Pantera-like bridge incessantly compel me to skip forward with a nonplussed grimace whilst the latter adheres to more of the same slapdash, Machine Head evoking gruffness/discordantly hollow and uncouth, irritating even, rhythms and lyrical themes. Nearing its merciful end, the singer bizarrely opts for a weird and shout-y, Tom Araya meets Mike Muir kind of spastic vocal delivery, which upsets me in the sense you’d expect seasoned metal heads to know better than attempt coy and vaguely commercialized attempts to imbue their work(s) with a hip element of cool-ness, or something along those lines.
 
Thus, it stands to reason Malison sounds best – that is, makes the most of its budding potential – when the band mates’ contributions are proportional, unforced and natural, as poignantly evidenced on the top highlights referred above, as well as the evil, helter-skelter and downright detonating “Nightmare: Pursuit”. I also commendably dig the pinched out and shuffle-some, Black Moor sounding road’ster, “The Protocol”, where the bassist/front man garners some of his choicest vocal passages, not to mention a free-wheeling and rockish-ly stalwart, Rhoads meets Murray fashioned lead over, which the guitarist’s fertile skill set is amply gleaned. To be sure, the drummer steadily keeps the beat without hiccups or undue excess.
 
As with Ventura based colleagues Night Demon – and more recently with Britain’s Toledo Steel, which also recently broke the ice full-length wise – Malison’s bumptious and rocky start could very well morph into wickedly pumped and seizing future developments i.e. hopefully, an unabashed, killer sophomore. Suffice to say, don’t write the lads off too soon. In my so-called “professional”, but humble opinion, these Oceanside, border hugging rivet heads likely have an ace or two up their denim n’ leather sleeves...

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