Hailing from Sheffield, Malevolence’s melding of sludgy Southern metal riffing and nasty beatdown-heavy hardcore has made them a real talking point of the last few years of British metal. At the Manchester date of their tour supporting second record Self Supremacy, we caught up with frontman Alex Taylor and drummer Charlie Thorpe.
S] First things first, you guys are a couple days into the UK tour now. How’s it going so far?
C: We’ve had two good shows so far.
S] You’ve just released your second album Self Supremacy. What’s the reception been like?
A: It’s been really positive. A lot of people were really excited because it’s been four years in the making so people were hyping it for a long time, and it felt good to finally get it out. Everyone seems really buzzing about the new tracks, especially the two new singles Wasted Breath and Slave to Satisfaction which we put videos out for and they’ve ended up with 100,000 views in the space of a month so great.
C: I completely forgot how it was gonna be. You forget what it’s like releasing music.
S] It must feel good to be back then.
C: Great, so many compliments and not many bad comments.
S] What was happening in those three or four year between the records?
C: Mainly touring. We spent a good year or two writing which took longer than it was meant to. Every process had some hurdle we fell down at. You name it, something went wrong.
A: I think people got the impression that we kinda disappeared and didn’t really do anything but we were just on the road. We did three long tours with Dying Fetus, Comeback Kid and Obey the Brave, we did festivals, and the writing process was spread amongst that, along with our personal lives juggling full time jobs and things like that.
S] What kind of hurdles?
A: Just things like the recording and the mixing, and we’re pretty fussy as well, we wanted to get it exactly as we wanted it, especially as there was so much anticipation from people for the new record that we wanted it to live up to that.
S] Did you feel a lot of pressure in trying to follow-up a debut that well received then?
C: A bit yeah.
A: Getting it out though and it being well received has been a weight off our shoulders.
S] Do you feel the new record is a notable step forward from the debut?
A: I think it’s a lot more mature. Personally, lyrically, the lyrics on this album are a step up. We were pretty young when we wrote Reign of Suffering. There was quite a lot of mumbo-jumbo. On this album we tried to think about the themes more. We wanted something that people could relate to and sing along to, and trying to make every line a sing-along line instead of filler.
C: Day to day things rather than demons and stuff.
A: When you listen to bands like Hatebreed and they make you wanna go out and smash your days, we wanted to try and get across a similar thing. The album’s called Self Supremacy which is about being the best you can be. I wanted it to be a bit more motivating rather than the normal drivel. That is one of the big changes but also you can say that about every element. We started to look at song structures more, looking at how songs flow together and how the album sits as a whole piece. This one’s a lot more aggressive and cohesive.
C: I tried to step up the drumming a bit, not in terms of speed but in grooves and technicality. Musically, before it was just riff after riff and now each song is a proper song with verses and choruses.
S] You guys have obviously got quite a unique and recognisable sound in terms of bringing different elements together. Was that a conscious decision when you were discovering what Malevolence was originally or did it just happen?
A: A bit but we just write the music that we wanna hear, and if people like it we’re buzzing.
C: We hear something that we like it and we try to not rip it off but put our twist on it and join it together with these other things.
A: We all listen to so much different stuff, not just from metal, so we’ll try and incorporate little bits of everything we listen to. I think having that identifiable sound is very important. If you’re doing the same as everyone else, if you’re looking back in ten years on what you did you won’t be as proud of that.
S] You’ve also so far with the two records got a consistent art style with the almost medieval style paintings. What was the idea behind that?
A: They were both done by this guy Tom Bates. We wanted to make this album a continuation of the first in that sense. When you put it on your wall they look cool next to each other.
S] Do you think it’s important to have that recognisable visual identity as a band?
S] How different would you say the musical landscape of 2017 is to 2013 when you released the debut?
A: It’s always going to be changing. Changing styles that are popular goes round in a circle almost sometimes. Things that were cool ten years ago are not cool now but might start coming back in next year.
C: We try to just not stay the same but crack on with our own sound, and don’t try to adhere to any other trend.
S] Would you say the scene around you is particularly strong at the moment?
C: I’d say it is. I mean it depends on how much you go to shows.
S] What’s it like in Sheffield at the moment?
A: Pretty shit to be honest.
C: I think it’s alright. With smaller gigs for example, all the people that used to come out are still there coming out and you see all the same faces so in that sense it’s good. That’s the only sort of shows we go to though so it’s hard to say.
S] To round things off then, what are your goals for the next year or so now Self Supremacy is out?
A: Carry on touring. Reign of Suffering took us from being a national band to an international band, we went to America and Europe, so if this album takes us to new places we’re happy. See the world.
S] Do you imagine there’ll be a similar gap between Self Supremacy and the next record or would you like it to be quicker this time?
C: Hopefully not. Maybe we’ll take it a different angle though and release more singles. We’ll see what works.