Malevolence evoke the very best whisky-swiggin’, weed-smoking bands that ever swaggered out of states like Texas and New Orleans. Although their King Kong-size riffs are backed by brutal rhythms from the no-frills hardcore playbook, there’s no mistaking their origin. Of course they’re from the Deep South… of Yorkshire.
“Everyone in Malevolence loves metal in general,” explains frontman Alex Taylor. “We all have our own little niches. I’m more into hardcore – older bands like Terror and Madball, as well as the newer bands coming through. But Josh [Baines, guitar] and Konan [Hall, guitar/vocals] are way more into bands like Down, Pantera and Crowbar. That’s where they draw most of their influences from.”
Completed by bassist Wilkie Robinson and drummer Charlie Thorpe, the metalcore bruisers originate from Sheffield, but their sound has travelled a lot further – about 5,000 miles further. While they’re playing metal riffs over a rhythmic backdrop rooted in hardcore, those riffs owe more to the likes of Superjoint Ritual and Down than they do to the genre’s more traditional influences. And they’re huge.
The seeds of Malevolence were sown when guitarists Josh and Konan were in primary school. Already dedicated to the metal cause, they were regularly playing gigs in local pubs to bemused punters. “Ha, yeah – they were only nine or 10 years old, and they both had hair down to their knees,” Alex laughs. “Proper moshers!”
These mini-moshers were clearly destined for a life of metal, but they took their first steps towards creating the hulking hybrid that is Malevolence when Alex joined the band six years ago, bringing the guttural grunts, Southern drawls and no-fuck-given attitude.
“Malevolence was just a local band – they hadn’t put any music out,” he explains. “When I joined, we started taking things a bit more seriously. We recorded a demo in our practice room, which we released – and it was absolutely awful!”
Alex describes this early iteration of the band as having “a weird, melodeath, kinda At The Gates vibe”. But off the back of it, Malevolence started to get gigs outside of South Yorkshire. And they soon realised they wanted to do things their own way.
“We clocked that we wanted to write music that was different from everything else,” says Alex. “We don’t really think about what’s cool.”
Malevolence released their debut album, Reign Of Suffering, in 2013, through Siege Of Amida/Century Media. Then they hit the road for three tiring years. Their eclectic sound meant that they found it as easy to get tours with hardcore punk bands such as Comeback Kid as they did for true-blue, none-more-metal bands like Dying Fetus.
“Dying Fetus was tough,” Alex admits. “It’s very outside of our usual crowd, but by the time we got halfway through the set we found that the older, metal crowd were really enjoying us.”
It’s taken four years, but Malevolence’s sophomore effort, Self Supremacy, was worth the wait. A true evolution of the promise shown on Reign Of Suffering, it’s saturated with the kind of sludgy, stoner guitar work more usually associated with the Reinventing The Steel, rather than the Steel City. It’s unusual to hear such a hardcore-influenced band indulging the kind of melodic grooves that Josh brings, but it really works.
The band’s total disregard for current trends is what makes Self Supremacy so special. It’s the natural result of the lack of pretension with which Malevolence seem to approach everything, including how they discovered metal in the first place.
“I heard Metallica’s S&M and I thought it was sick. I went out and bought Metal Hammer, and the cover CD had a Trivium song, so I bought Ascendancy and I remember thinking, ‘This is crazy!’” Alex exclaims. “That was one of the defining albums for getting me into really aggressive stuff. But I grew up on Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory and Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish. My mum used to buy them for me, and tell me not to repeat the swearwords.”
That would be the same Chocolate Starfish which famously contains the couplet, ‘If I say fuck two more times/That’s 46 fucks in this fucked-up rhyme’? “Yeah – she put that first song on and said, ‘D’you know what? Let’s wait until you’re a bit older to put that one on!’ I must have been about 11 or 12.”
Thankfully, Malevolence’s lyrics are considerably more mature than Fred Durst’s playground cursing. Self Supremacy deals in positive aggression – the same brand of self-belief and PMA on which Hatebreed have spent decades building their band. The title track is a pumped-up anthem of self-determination, where Alex barks a load of inspirational lyrics such as, ‘Self supremacy, I must believe, never falter in the presence of my enemies.’
“I used to listen to Hatebreed and I’d wanna smash something. That motivational, get-up-and-go attitude in their lyrics is the same thing I wanted to achieve with Self Supremacy,” Alex explains. “I want anyone to be able to listen to the title track and go and out smash their day. It’s about going out there and being the best that you can be.”
So there you have it: Hatebreed’s inspirational hardcore, married to Down’s earth-rumbling riffage, all being belted out of the city that gave us Bring Me The Horizon and While She Sleeps. If that doesn’t make you want to sprint into the pit, it’s possible you might be in a coma.
Self Supremacy is out on May 19 via BDHW