MALEVOLENT CREATION — The 13th Beast (review)

MALEVOLENT CREATION — The 13th Beast album cover Album · 2019 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
UMUR
"The 13th Beast" is as the title suggests the 13th full-length studio album by US death metal act Malevolent Creation. The album was released through Century Media Records in January 2019. It´s the successor to "Dead Man's Path" from 2015. There have been several lineup changes since the release of the predecessor, as bassist Jason Blachowicz has been replaced by Josh Gibbs, guitarist Gio Geraca and lead vocalist Brett Hoffmann have been replaced by Lee Wollenschlaeger (who handles both lead vocals and guitars on the album), and drummer Justin DiPinto has been replaced by Philip Cancilla, leaving guitarist and founding member Phil Fasciana the sole remaining member of the lineup who recorded "Dead Man's Path (2015)".

Malevolent Creation has always been Fasciana´s child, so lineup changes (and there have been a lot of lineup changes over the years) or not, "The 13th Beast" still sounds unmistakably like Malevolent Creation. Energetic and aggressive death metal with brutal thrash metal leanings. Uncompromising and featuring very few melodic elements and easily accessible hooks. The pace is predominantly fast, but there are both mid-paced and a few blasting sections featured on the album too. So far...so good...

...while Fasciana has been the driving force behind the band and has held the flag high since the formation of the band in 1987, which has ensured stylistic continuety and a relatively stabile quality level of the band´s output, there have been both excellent releases and less remarkable ones in the band´s discography. Most of the excellent ones feature Brett Hoffmann on vocals. Hoffmann was the lead vocalist in Malevolent Creation in the periods 1987-1993, 1998-2001, and 2006-2016 (he sadly died of colon cancer in July 2018) and his unique raw semi-growling vocal style provided the band´s music with something special, which made them stand out on the scene. Including Wollenschlaeger the band have at this point had three other lead vocalists than Hoffmann, and none of them have been able to lift the heavy heritage of the iconic frontman. Every time Hoffmann has been out of the band, they have lost that special thing which made them stand out, and unfortunately that´s also the case on "The 13th Beast".

Don´t get me wrong here though because Wollenschlaeger gets the job done and he is not a bad growler. His performance here is just pretty standard for the genre and after a couple of tracks feels a bit one-dimensional. It has the effect that not many tracks stand out or are particularly memorable beyond the album´s playing time. So it´s the kind of album which is enjoyable enough while it plays but soon forgotten after it ends. It´s a quality release on most other parameters as both the musicianship and the sound production are of good quality, but viewed along the other albums in the band´s discography, "The 13th Beast" is among their less remarkable ones. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.
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