Yet another one-man show. Right? Usually, those jacks of all trades risk ending up in a mess of tinny guitars and moldy vocals. It is a fucking revelation that some of them actually cut it, and with kudos to boot. But often you get that quagmire of one who wants to nail it by himself, but it never quite sounds right.
Malice Divine hovered around our radar for a long time, and way beyond the self-titled album’s release date. That’s one of those records of the ‘me-too’ kind. It constantly pops up like this kid that wants a piece of the candy, too. So finally, we gave in. You can’t resist the inner workings of the RMR review pipe, it’s just unrelenting. And it usually does this only when there’s quality afoot. Or the abject contrary in rare cases. So, let ‘er rip, and let’s see what shakes.
Toronto-based Ric Galvez, the man behind this record, had a dream. It centered around that often elusive full creative control that he craved. And that’s a rare commodity in the music industry. Free creativity is often brutally challenged once bands move out into this wide ocean full of sharks that’s this business of ours. Labels, managers, producers, they usually all either want to have a slice of that control or just voice their opinion. And the more they finance stuff, the greedier they get.
But here, Mr. Galvez just forged ahead and created Malice Divine, self-released, with only Dylan Gowan – his session drummer – for company. And that turned out to be a good thing.
The album shows its colors right from the start. Some classical lines roll to the forefront first in the intro. But those lose quickly to some outstanding solos and riffs that bubble to the surface. And by the time Quantum Manifestation leads off into the metallic yonder, I found myself catapulted into the realms where bands like Aephanemer dwell. It’s that tasty mix of soaring riffs and savvy Death Metal growls.
That means we are facing a mastery of Melodic Death Metal that the RMR crew here was astonished to find. And often the riffs and solos sail pretty near to what we
hear heard from bands like Arch Enemy. Or – to a lesser extent – what bands like Stortregn have on offer. Yet, to stamp Death Metal only on Malice Divine‘s offering would be way too easy.
Case in point, you’ll suddenly find down-in-the-pit Black Metal as well as a lot of thrash in that cauldron of theirs. They also work with emotions, breaks with slower parts, and some rare acoustics. It’s a pretty wild ride, but one that – for sure – will keep your attention to the very end. And we truly relished those changes from DM growls to those blackened rasps in one fluid motion.
In fact, this outfit is yet another style breaker who will actually create music without being bothered too much by those silly confines we often experience in metal. That – of course – when it is clear that their expertise lies with the softer end of the Extreme Metal realm, not some other unrelated genre. So, the band here offers metal and won’t suddenly veer off into – say – pop or synthwave. And that’s yet another attribute we appreciated.
So, what direction did Ric Galvez’s brainchild Malice Divine take? Has this turned into a dime-a-dozen Jack of All Trades affair or did we find that metal quality we crave?
Well, Galvez indeed sports pretty impressive musical chops. The fact that he plays every instrument except drums by himself, AND he growls and rasps to boot, never turned into some sort of clusterfuck. And all that comes on top of a refreshing mix of different sub-styles that never venture outside of their chosen relatively large corner of the metal multiverse. In other words, you get variety with no sign of that dreaded sensory overload brought about by too much repetition.
This keeps the content fresh and never boring throughout the relatively long runtime of the record. Besides, it prevents us from setting off all sorts of nerd alarms that otherwise would spring into action.
In the end, the RMR deck crew just discovered another (almost) one-man show that’s worth every ounce of its salt. A shiny treasure trove for connoisseurs of outstanding guitar geekery. True, its rich abundance often almost kills the cat. Yet it constantly saves itself by the aforementioned musical prowess, expert vocals, and outstanding songwriting skills on display.
That’s one cool record, and we’re mighty pleased that we finally picked it up. Keep going, Malice Divine.
Record Rating: 8/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook
Release Date: 19 February 2021
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