Album Review: Malevolence - Antithetical
Reviewed by Dan Barnes
Not to be confused with the Sheffield Hardcore crew of the same name, Portugal’s Malevolence is a very different beast and this release of Antithetical, their 2013 album, is the first time the title has been available on vinyl.
Although there are many styles of metal featured on Antithetical the predominance of bombastic symphonic black metal is apparent from the outset. In the vein of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, Malevolence’s music is grandiose, with extensive use of the epic possibilities of keyboards utilised to the maximum degree.
Early on, the album fluctuates between the epic nature of Cult of the Everlasting, with its sweeping keys and stabbing guitars, and a shorter, more explosive tracks which seem far deeper rooted in the second wave. Yet, neither Devoured Unlimited, oozing filth with every blast-beat, nor Equilibrium in Extremis’ uncompromising rhythms are without their variation on the black metal theme. Devoured veers toward a more power metal realm, whereas Equilibrium injects a distinctly groove-oriented section.
Antithetical has three lengthy compositions among its seven tracks: the title track, Exocortex Momentum and Mechanics of Destructive Behaviour. Each of which plays with the Malevolence sound and subverts the expectations of its listeners. Antithetical opens with a distinctly industrial backbeat going on, mixed with guttural vocals and a clean guitar sound, there is an almost timeless quality to the song, enhanced by the chaotic combination of keys and drum as it falls into neo-folk.
That folk atmosphere is observable again in the mid-part of Exocortex Momentum, a near ten-minute black metal blitzkrieg broken by a extended exploration of a folk idea. Mechanics of Destructive Behaviour is far more in-your-face, with only some early forays into doom territory to offer relief from the unflinching barrage.
The warmth of the sound offered by vinyl means Antithetical’s adventurous and epic moments will soar; the keys will elevate the atmosphere of the piece while the dark riffing and howling vocals will gain a richness not previously heard.
Although more than eight years old, Malevolence managed to produce an album that was ahead of its time and sounds as through it could be a wholly contemporary release. If you’re a fan of the not-too-black metal, Antithetical could well be in your wheelhouse.