"For me, personally, the two best death metal albums that have ever been made are 'Effigy of the Forgotten' from Suffocation and Malevolent Creation's 'Retribution'." - Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy (Chronicles of Chaos #30)
Such is the regard in which many hold Malevolent Creation's second, and best, album. Since its release, the band has been inconsistent, and though they've made some decent albums, 'Retribution' will be their legacy.
Opener "Eve of the Apocalypse" begins with a short, suspense-building keyboard plink intro, then erupts in a violence that won't be subsiding for the next half hour or so of your life. Alex Marquez's knee cartilage-eroding double bass sets the stage as a churning, struggling riff begins to chip away at the wall separating us from death.
Those familiar with MC's more recent work may be surprised at the relative scarcity of blast beats compared to the 'Eternal'-and-beyond era. There is a fair share of blast here (much of it in "Monster"), but the music is more architectured and a bit less linear than the later stuff, instead making extensive use of the aforementioned double bass as well as galloping Slayer rhythms to work a song through all its possibilities. This music isn't as overtly technical as many Florida death metal releases, but well crafted and performed to maximize the potential of the ideas.
The riffs are for the most part memorable, short, and punchy, and often give the impression of spiraling toward something inexorably. Lead guitar is scarce but effective without being flashy ("The Coldest Survive"). Bret Hoffmann's vocals are updated greatly from 'The Ten Commandments', the '80s-derived hoarse groan giving way, mostly, to a midrange death vocal that's one of the genre's most powerful and engaging performances.
Malevolent Creation have never been the innovators that, say, Suffocation were, but have always brought a sincerity of intent and creation and a no-frills approach which earns them respect in my book, and here they were at the height of their powers.
Note: the first three Malevolent Creation CDs are all out of print, so scan the used CD racks or get a conscientious metalhead to CD-R them for you.
© 2001 j.s.