Sheffield’s Malevolence have been no stranger to their home shores in the four years since the release of their debut Reign of Suffering, but it has been a while since there’s been new material to promote and play. With that in mind, this tour does feel particularly notable, with the band finally following up their incredibly well received debut with new album Self Supremacy and ready to drop these new tracks into the mix like atom bombs.
From the reaction to all of the support acts, it’s clear that this crowd is more than ready for the evening ahead. Throughout the night the room is a swirling vortex of activity, with limbs flying in all directions and even the odd cartwheel. A huge Scottish flag draped across the drumkit signals the arrival of Revulsion, who provide possibly the heaviest showing of the night. Revulsion’s music is all violence with not a scrap of light escaping from the fray, a opening huge wall of dissonance giving way to pummelling slabs of groove after groove. Their frontman is a genuinely imposing figure with huge physical presence on stage, and his full-throated roar almost brings to mind the guttural nihilism of Primitive Man.
No Zodiac coming across from the States meanwhile offer a similar level of barbarity and pure brutish force, but unfortunately with nowhere near the level of personality. Like Revulsion, the influence of death metal does far more than just creep in, with their beatdowns almost bordering on slam at points, and it’s at moments like these that it’s hard not to marvel at the evolution hardcore has gone on from its Black Flag and Minor Threat days. It doesn’t stop No Zodiac being tremendously generic though, and their schtick gets old very quickly.
It was always going to be Malevolence’s night though. Self Supremacy has been out for only just over a week, and still when they take to the stage and slam into Slave to Satisfaction, the room in front of them is bellowing every word back to them, those in front seeming to swarm over each other to get to the outstretched microphone. Like its predecessor, Self Supremacy has been taken to the heart by Malevolence’s growing fan-base. Slave to Satisfaction’s colossal sludge climax complete with scathing pick scrape leads perfectly into the fast-paced aggression of Delusions of Fear from Reign of Suffering, and there is no dip in the level of participation and energy from the audience between material from the two albums.
Their set is relatively short, but there are no lulls to speak of. On record, the density and subtle complexity of their riffing can take a few spins to get your head around, but in the live arena Malevolence’s songs are immediately and undeniably pummelling and simultaneously memorable. Charlie Thorpe’s blast beats in Severed Ties are white hot and searing, while the crushing final movements of In the Face of Death incite pandemonium with a sea of spinning bodies in the pit. Konan Hall’s sense of bellowed melody channels Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein and is the perfect foil to frontman Alex Taylor’s more typical hardcore attack, the two bouncing off each other on tracks like Wasted Breath to create a really distinct vocal identity for Malevolence. Alex punctuates songs with well-timed barks to add that extra little element of oomph to appropriate moments, and as the swaggering power of Serpents Chokehold closes the main set he caps his night off with a front-flip into the audience. Malevolence are now firmly established as one of British metal’s hottest prospects, and right now they’re on top of their game.