"Stillborn" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US death metal act Malevolent Creation. The album was released in October 1993 through Roadrunner Records. "Stillborn" would be the last Malevolent Creation album released through the label though. Disagreements over the choice of recording studio, producer and funds resulted in Malevolent Creation entering Pro Media Studios, Gainesville, Florida with producer Mark Pinske instead of Morrisound Recording Studios and producer Scott Burns which/who the band prefered.
...now I´ll try not to be too harsh on Mark Pinske (hell he was the chief recording engineer/live sound engineer for Frank Zappa in the period 1980-1987 and that requires something special of a man), but the sound production is quite the disappointment for most fans of the first two albums "The Ten Commandments (1991)" and "Retribution (1992)" (both recorded at Morrisound Recording Studios with Scott Burns producing) and I´m pretty sure the band wasn´t too satisfied with the sound either. Mark Pinske worked on at least two other metal productions in those years namely "Promises Impure (1993)" by Demented Ted and of course "Elements (1993)" by Atheist. All three albums have a very distinct, über distorted and hollow sound. While Mark Pinske´s production style worked pretty well on "Elements (1993)", and allright but not quite as well on "Promises Impure (1993)", it´s safe to say it doesn´t do the music on "Stillborn" any favours. The mix seem weird at times with the guitars drowning, the drums have an odd matchbox sound and the vocals are high in the mix and distorted to a point where it´s not always enjoyable to listen to the performance of lead vocalist Brett Hoffmann. However odd it may sound though I kind of enjoy the sound production when I´m in the right mood and it certainly gives "Stillborn" a unique identity not all the band´s albums possess. At the time when "Stillborn" was released I wasn´t too happy about the way it sounded though and the fans and the critics apparently agreed as "Stillborn" didn´t sell very well and generally received negative reviews. As a consequence Malevolent Creation were dropped by Roadrunner Records. A split that was anything but happy and nearly resulted in the demise of the band.
The music actually hasn´t changed that much compared to the style on the two predecessors, which means semi-thrashy and well played death metal with aggressive but intellegible growling vocals in front. You´ll have to look long for melodies and the tracks take a while to sink in an leave hooks. This is music created to make your head bang and make your body move in the pit. The many tempo changes and breaks will probably make it an obscure dance in that pit, but no less enjoyable. While standout tracks are a bit hard to point out, I´d say the opening track "Dominated Resurgency", the title track, which is by far the most memorable track on the album, incorporating heavier mid-paced riffing and even a hint of melody, and the closing track "Disciple of Abhorrence" are among the highlights.
...so while "Stillborn" is definitely the black sheep in Malevolent Creation´s discography, I personally find it enjoyable to a certain extent and I´d say a 3 - 3.5 star rating is warranted. Don´t start here if you are not familiar with the band though.