MALICE – ‘ New Breed Of Godz’ (SPV)
Malice – what’s the chatter!* The word on the street is that their debut album, 1985’s ‘In The Beginning’ is the best album Judas Priest never made. In fact, I said that one night in front of a famour journalist at the Marquee just before the album came out and his review the following week carried that very line. The follow-up ‘License To Kill’ didn’t pack quite such a punch though and things went downhill from there. It didn’t help that when Malice did finally tour the UK in 1987 – a string of showcase dates that should have turned on a whole host of new fans – it was as support to Slayer, possibly the worst bill in the history of incompatible pairings. Where the headliners reigned, the LA power metal (by Eighties definitions) combo died on their feet. A final odds-and ends EP ‘Crazy In The Night’ appeared in 1989; although a hit-and-miss affair, in ‘Vice-Versa’ (which admittedly is more Malice-lite than Malice metal) the four-tracker boasted one of those Paul Sabu compositions guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
But now Malice are back from the ‘MIA’ file. Original members Jay Reynolds (guitars), Mick Zane (guitars) and Mark Behn (bass) hooked up with Helstar singer James Rivera and drummer Pete Holmes (of Black ’N Blue) in 2011 to play a series of reunion shows, and on the strength of their reception are now back in the game once more with ‘New Breed Of Godz’, a collection of re-recorded classics with a smattering of newies to show that this is more than just a trip down memory lane.
The older songs are split evenly with ‘Hell Rider’, ‘Stellar Masters’, ‘Air Attack’ and ‘Godz Of Thunder’ coming off the first album and ‘Against The Empire’, ‘Sinister Double’, ‘Circle Of Fire’ and ‘Chain Gang Woman’ from the second. They’re all fairly faithful reproductions of the original but with a contemporary, cutting edge sound that in particular really lends some muscle to the material from ‘License To Kill’. But it’s the new songs that will attract all the attention, and the good news is that they’re all well-crafted and fit for purpose, sounding, as you might expect, like a cross between Malice and Helstar. Opener ‘New Breed Of Godz’ has a pounding riff and a relentless power which shows you that this is band with something to say; ‘Branded’ fair bounds along like a greyhound with its tail on fire (don’t try that at home, boys and girls); ‘Winds Of Death (Angel Of Light)’ as the title suggests starts out as The Ballad but gears up mid-way through and could easily show some of the newer kids on the block how to fashion a classic metal song; and ‘Slipping Through The Cracks’ with its thick-set drum pattern is almost the opposite, illustrating how keeping things simple can still hit the spot big-time.
And if that’s not enough, ‘New Breed Of Godz’ comes with a bonus DVD featuring rare live footage from 1987 and three live tracks from the reunion show at Keep It True in 2011. Nicely presented and packaged, it’s obviously a case of Malice aforethought…
* With apologies to Terrorvision
© John Tucker May 2012