Malicious Death - From above 3/5
1. Death by dawn
2. One by one
3. Crooked cross
4 No justice
5. Reign of chaos
7. Storm of the metal
8. Thrash till death
9. From above
With the glut of thrash CDs engulfing the marketplace in recent years, it is inevitable that a number of releases (even quality releases) will go unnoticed by even the most discerning and diligent old-school thrasher. The risk of being overlooked is magnified where a band’s CD is released by an overseas label with minimal exposure in the USA. And the problem is compounded if the cover art is so visually unappealing that it is more likely to drive interested listeners away than to attract them. Finland’s Malicious Death confronted this unholy trifecta of obstacles with their 2010 CD, ‘From above’, which is their 3rd CD. This CD, which explores thoroughly saturated old-fashioned thrash realms, saw the light of day on the little-known Disentertainment label, and features some of the ugliest cover art this writer has eyeballed in some time. As a result of these factors, I was blissfully ignorant of ‘From above’ until a few weeks ago, when a copy arrived in my mailbox for review purposes.
It’s a shame that Malicious Death flew under the radar for so long with ‘From above’, because devotees of 80s-styled thrash may find much to like about it. Over the CD’s 9-song, 35-minute duration, the Finnish quartet bashes out a necksnapping workout chock full of razor-sharp riffage, gang-shouted choruses, and thrashing (even punky) attitude that harkens back to the early days of the Kreator/Destruction/Sodom trinity. Special credit goes to short-haired, bespectacled guitarist Obadio, who delivers a tasty barrage of kick-ass, sometimes-technical, spiraling thrash riffs akin to those of Mike Sifringer (Destruction) or Tony Portaro (Whiplash), with the occasional nod to ‘Kill ‘em all’ era Metallica in tone and feel. Songs like “One by one” and “Storm of the metal” are virtually guaranteed to induce friendly violent fits of headbanging and moshing amongst even the most jaded thrash mongers.
Notwithstanding the tasty thrash morsels on display, ‘From above’ is not without its faults. Vocalist G.G. (who, like Obadio, appears in the live shots in the CD booklet wearing glasses, which is almost unheard of in the thrash metal genre despite the fact that many fans – like yours truly – are firmly in the visually challenged camp ourselves) lacks the character of the better classic thrash singers, with an extreme, one-dimensional grunt sounding somewhere between modern Schmier, Sacrifice’s Rob Urbinati and Possessed’s Jeff Becerra. G.G. is not a death metal singer, per se, but he certainly is one of the more “brutal” old-school thrash frontmen you’ll hear, which is a bit offputting to these ears, especially given the thick accent that renders him largely incomprehensible. Another problem is the lyrics. I’m not a particularly sensitive, flowers-and-rainbows kind of guy, but I have a pretty low tolerance for graphic lyrics like the disembowelment-with-a-crowbar theme of “No justice” or the dismember-your-family-with-a-knife ditty, “One by one”. Sure, Malicious Death’s treatment of these subjects is positively tame by comparison to the likes of Cannibal Corpse, but it’s a level of gore that doesn’t interest me at all. Oh, and the saxophone (!!!) solo slapped smack in the middle of ripping thrasher “Blasphemy” appears to have been inserted for the sole purpose of being a WTF? moment. Mission accomplished, I guess.
At the end of the day, my impression is that a hardened, dyed-in-the-denim-vest, bullet-belt-clad thrash fiend could do much worse than to check out Malicious Death. As mentioned, some of the riffs are exceptional, and the band’s love of 80s-style thrash (particularly the German variant) shines through at all times. Thrash completists should jump all over this if they haven’t already. But if you fall into the category of folks who dig thrash but are so burned out by the truckloads of new old-school thrash releases bombarding the market of late that you only go for the cream of the crop, then ‘From above’ may not make the grade, especially given the limited, accented vocals.
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