Malevolent Creation's sophomore effort, Retribution, was released
in April 1992. By this point, Death Metal had exploded in such a manner that far too many bands were overflowing into the
scene, most of them just incredibly mediocre. I recall hearing this band's name mentioned along the likes of Death, Obituary,
Morbid Angel, Deicide and so on, all those years ago. This album, in particular, received high praise every time. Yet, when
I got my hands on the cassette version of this album, it just fell flat.
The majority of the music here is quite dull and pointless. The Ten
Commandments didn't feature much that was worth remembering, outside of the intense "Premature Burial". However, Retribution
is an even more tedious listening chore. One of the things that differentiates Metal from simple Rock music has always been
the emphasis placed on the riffs, generally with most bands having two guitarists. Nonetheless, neither Rob Barrett nor Phil
Fasciania are the stars of this production. Neither is Brett Hoffmann (whose voice is fairly good but still displays no talent
for making the vocals properly fit the music). No, the central figure of Malevolent Creation's second L.P. is the drummer,
This entire album is ruined because of the immensely overactive percussion.
Death Metal is supposed to create a dark atmosphere; instead, Retribution offers useless groove riffs and breakdowns
and criminal overuse of double bass that undermines most of the very few decent riffs that did manage to slip onto this record.
Tracks like "The Coldest Survive", "Mindlocked" and "Iced" are a bit more primitive and straightforward than most of the rest,
certainly the best parts of this album, yet the drums still do their best to spoil things as much as possible.
Of course, the list of complaints could not be complete without mentioning
the absolutely atrocious Morrisound production job. This possesses the same generic, sterile sound as almost every other album
recorded there during this period. To hear a random snippet from Retribution, without vocals, one would be hard-pressed
to correctly identify the band. With the likes of Obituary, Death, Pestilence, Napalm Death and others all recording at the
same studio and having their works wrecked by incompetent hands of Scott Burns, it all just blends together. Coupled with
the fact that their songwriting is sub-par, it's no surprise that Malevolent Creation never managed to reach the same heights
as some of their peers.
Many cite Stillborn as the point when Malevolent Creation proved
their ineptitude, but it was already on full display, here. Death Metal is not supposed to be driven forward by the percussion,
with the guitars taking on a supporting role. Retribution might be best used as a gateway album to gently lure Pantera
fans into harder music, but it is entirely worthless to those seeking pure Death Metal. Avoid this garbage.
(9 Mar. 2017)