Live Review: Malevolence - O2 Ritz, Manchester
8h November 2023
Support: Guilt Trip, Sylosis
Words: Matthew Williams
Photos: Bill Mawdsley
The long line outside the O2 Ritz on a Wednesday night, indicated that it was going to be a busy evening for the sold out Malevolence gig, but walking through the downstairs doors, I was amazed at how packed the venue was for a band who, many are calling the future/saviours of British metal. That fact remains to be seen, but I was intrigued to see what they were going to be like, but first we had Manchester’s very own rising stars of the hardcore scene, Guilt Trip.
They certainly get the crowd going from the very start, with vocalist Jay Valentine making the most of the limited amount of space on the stage, but the home crowd are lapping up their own brand of hardcore, backed with heavy riffs and a sprinkling of grooves.
The crowd goes a bit crazy when they play 'Eyes Wide Shut' which has that typical hardcore chunky riff, and with 'Broken Wings' being a faster song, with excellent guitar work from Jak Maden, they know what the punters want and they bring it to them in their own distinctive style. With final song 'Thin Ice', Valentine sings from the barrier and encourages the crowd to join him, with chaos in the first few rows and the circle pit going a bit wild, it brings their entertaining set to an end.
A rumbling sound followed by big applause greets Reading’s finest Sylosis to the stage, and with the barking of “How we doing Manchester?” from vocalist/guitarist Josh Middleton, they set about dismantling the venue. With blinding strobe lights behind them, they launch headlong into new songs 'Poison for the Lost' and 'Pariahs' which are both going to be future crowd pleasers and sets the tone for the night.
The solos are spot on and precise, timing perfect and the band are clearly having fun being back on stage. Middleton asks for a bigger pit for the wonderful 'I Sever' and the crowd duly responds, as they get to play songs such as 'Cycle of Suffering' that they didn’t get to tour because of the pandemic. They go back to 2008 with 'The Blackest Skyline' and “if you remember this one, you must be old like me” laughs Middleton, before it kicks in, with some brilliant drumming from Ali Richardson.
With 'Sands of Time' and the title track of their latest album 'A Sign of Things to Come' they keep the tempo going, before mayhem breaks out with their final two songs, 'Worship Decay' and 'Deadwood'.
But all this was leading up to one thing, and with shouts of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire” you could be confused into thinking this was at The Leadmill in Sheffield, the buzz is incredible, can Malevolence really be that good live? I was about to find out, but not before Oasis 'Wonderwall' was played across the PA, and met with a chorus of boos. The dry ice fills the stage, red, white and blue flashing lights, air raid sirens, search lights, and with one hand in the air vocalist Alex Taylor screams out “let’s get this party started Manchester” and off we go.
They begin with the pulsating 'Malicious Intent' followed by the raucous 'Life Sentence' and with the band in full head banging/body swaying together mode, the crowd goes absolutely nuts, and I guess this is what it’s all about. They follow this up with 'Waste of Myself', which is full of hardcore beats and tempo drops, and has a killer solo to keep the aggression levels high in the pit for their adoring masses.
Taylor is like a conductor on stage, and gets whatever he wants from the people watching, he asks Manchester to “get their dancing shoes on” and to “give me all your energy” before they rip into the superb 'Still Waters Run Deep', with the crowd waving their arms in the air. Sheffield is definitely “in the house” with more cries of “Yorkshire” going off across the venue. When 'Self Supremacy' rings out the place goes more wild than I thought possible, huge circle pits from wall to wall, with the instruction from Taylor to “pick someone up if you see them fall down”. Then the surreal moment when he instructs anyone with a lighter or torch “to light up the room like a Justin Bieber concert” before the excellent 'Higher Place' which gives the crowd a bit of a rest.
They select their set really well, and have a good mix of old and new songs, with 'Serpent’s Chokehold' and 'Condemned to Death' giving an airing before the madness continues with 'Karma'. A step back in time happens next, with the old traditional metal drum solo from Charlie Thorpe, giving time for the rest of the band to have a quick breather before they come on for their final two songs 'Keep Your Distance' and 'On Broken Glass' which has the downstairs going mental and the upstairs going crazy.
So, are Malevolence the future of British metal? That’s up to the public to decide, but they are very much the band of the here and now, so enjoy, and embrace the madness and energy that they bring.