The Ten Commandments reviews
stainedclass2112 on April 24th, 2016
Aggressive, Vicious, and Totally Awesome
When it comes to death metal, it takes very little to turn me off from it. Whether it be the vocals or the drums, I'm super picky. It's no secret that I'm not exactly the biggest death metal fan, but there is some stuff out there that I freakin' love. Among my favorite death metal bands are these guys - Malevolent Creation. One of the many death metal bands to be based in my home state, they have always been a favorite of mine. The vocals are sufficiently visceral but never too low (I hate the super low vocals in some death metal), the riffs are heavy and possessive of a thrash tinged aggression. There are no gimmicks here, just straightforward havoc; and it rules. The Ten Commandments is an album of full-on aggression and energy. What it lacks in variety, it makes up for in consistency; and this is seriously consistent. The Ten Commandments never lets up and it never gets boring, it is a vicious slab of top notch death metal.The Ten Commandments can be summed up as a collection of aggressive, thrashy, and straightforward death metal. The album reeks of that classic death vibe in that the riffs are heavy and fast, but with a thrash vibe that kicks total ass. Fans of good drumming will appreciate that the drummer here uses varied and creative drum rhythms instead of just endlessly blast beating. Expect lots of awesome cymbal work and tom fills to accompany the driving guitars and vicious vocals. This is also one of my favorite death metal productions, everything is gritty but still clear, making everything all the more enjoyable. I find that if the drums are way too loud or the vocals too bassy on a death metal album, it severely damages the value. That's not the case here, as everything is balanced for maximum effect, all of the crushing drums and savage riffs blend excellently.
The song structures within are somewhat straightforward, but with enough variations to make each song unique and interesting. The verses pummel you endlessly until another riff jumps in to assault you to usher in another crushing section to make for a violently satisfying experience. Every once in a while, a looming thrash-style riff break will rear its head forcing you into perpetual headbanging. The monster of a riff section of "Injected Sufferage" remains a favorite of mine, while the riff assault of "Sacrificial Annihilation" is guaranteed to impress. I've always thought that surprise thrash sections have been one of death metal's greatest weapons. This is an unpopular opinion, but those who like their death with a little bit of thrash will love this.
The musicianship is aggressive and excellently adept on The Ten Commandments, with each member showcasing an impressive amount of energy and dexterity. The riffs are aggressive and possessive of a satisfying, driving feel while the drums cover a great range of fills and rhythms, while never overdoing it. The solos, when present, are sufficiently chaotic while never sounding too noisy or unnecessary. The bass playing is totally awesome too. I wouldn't try to call it technically brilliant or masterfully executed, because it's not. The bass lines are ballsy, vicious, deep, heavy, and totally wicked sounding. Like I said earlier, everything also has a thrash tinge to it, so expect some seriously thrashy elements in the playing.
My biggest issue with death metal is the vocals (shocker right?). I cannot stand when a vocalist gurgles and growls into the microphone in such a low-pitched manner that it makes me cringe. It's just not my thing. I'm not saying it's bad, I just don't care for it. If it's not your thing either, you might actually enjoy these vocals. The vocals here are definitely death metal vocals, but they are in the middle register so that it's much easier to understand him. This isn't brutal enough for most people, but it's perfect for me. Fans of death vocals in this vein will get a kick out of this. Overall I find that the vocals are executed quite well, so that any fan of death metal will enjoy it.
I'm definitely not a death metal aficionado, but I know some good death when I hear it. I happen to love this album, and I recommend it to all fans of the genre. Like I said earlier, those who like a little thrash in their death metal are going to love this. It loses some points overall for a lack of diversity, but as a whole this is a very competent and strong album. This is among my favorite death metal albums, it destroys everything in its path for its entire running time. My favorite track is by far "Injected Sufferage" with its kickass bass intro and its ridiculously vicious riff break. Check this one out if you'd like a taste of the whole album. In the end, The Ten Commandments is awesome. While this might seem a bit dated and obsolete to some avid death metal fans, I still love and enjoy it. Definitely recommended to everybody who hasn't heard it yet.
mikey22 on January 6th, 2016
Fuck yes bravo bravo
This album right here absolutely slaughters everything in its path. This album is one of the finest examples of death/thrash ever made. It mixes both of the elements so perfectly that it's just quite unreal. For example the drumming isn't just pure blast beat mayhem, they stick to mostly thrashy drumming with some blast beats thrown in there for good measure, and the riffs are also very thrashy as well. Minor scale runs with with some devastating chugging breakdowns. First thing we have to talk about is the great production by Scott Burns. This man has produced so many classic death metal albums Effigy of the Forgotten, Retribution, Cause of Death, Legion, Deicide, The Bleeding, and numerous others. The man has done no wrong that is why so many bands came to Morrisound studios. The production is your typical Morrisound production very good drum sound, muddy downtuned guitars, and sometimes audible bass. The production presented here is on of Burn's most brutal sounding productions along with Butchered at Birth and Effigy of the Forgotten. Like I said before downtuned muddy guitar sound, great drum clicks and double bass sound, as well as some standout bass guitar moments.
Lets talk about the guitars on this album. The riffs played here are super memorable and really heavy. There are sections where the riffs are tremolo picked frenzies which just stick in your head after your hear them, then the crushing breakdowns which follow. These breakdowns destroy everything in their path, they're not the breakdowns that were used and abused by mallcore scene bands, but truly heavy breakdowns that just slay everything in their path. The solos could of been better they're mostly just crazy fast, super short minor scale runs thrown in, but they sound much better than the sloppiness that Cannibal Corpse and Deicide displayed on their early albums.
The bass is mostly inaudible but it does have some standout sections (ex. Sacrificial Annihilation and Injected Sufferage). Jason Blachowicz is a solid bass player but sometimes his bass is completely inaudible and sometimes his has bass standout sections. In "Injected Sufferage" he throws down a cool bass solo in the beginning that is accentuated by the guitars opening striking chords. Also in "Sacrificial Annihilation" he throws in a very technical bass solo at the 22 second mark that would impress Alex webster. Other than that though he is buried underneath the meaty guitar sound.
We must talk about Brett Hoffman's amazing vocals. His vocals on this album were unmatched, he never was able to duplicate these vocals again. Here he is at his most energetic and he displays a very impressive range here. He mostly sounds like a thrash vocalist with some growls thrown in, but he is very versatile. On this album he displays a spoken word intro on the first track, but he also can belt out some very impressive screams that he holds out for a pretty long time, he mostly uses a thrash rasp rather than the deep guttural death metal vocals that are so overly used today. His lyrical ability is what truly impressed me the most though. I do not know many death metal vocalists who have the vocabulary that Brett does. Read the lyrics to "Remnants Of Withered Decay," "Multiple Stab Wounds," Sacrificial Annihilation," and the final track. The lyrics displayed are very descriptive with big 50 cent words mostly focusing on death, the afterlife, and politics. But the way he sings the lyrics are very pleasing to listen to I find myself chanting the chorus's because they are so catchy on most of these songs. I forgot to mention also how fast he can sing, he sing's crazy fast on most of these songs and he also rhymes better than most rappers could dream of.
My favorite part of this album though is Mark Simpson's drumming. What happened to this guy? Alex Marquez in my opinion is just a shadow of this guy. Mark Simpson doesn't just stick to blast beats the entire time, he throws some in there for good measure, but he mostly sticks to thrashy drumming. His drumming reminds me heavily of Dave Lombardo of Slayer, his fills are extremely creative I find myself rewinding them just to hear them again multiple times. For example on "Thou Shall Kill!" he does a fill the same time the guitars are doing descending scale runs and its just beautiful sounding. He also uses some blast beats on "Premature Burial" as well as "Decadence Within." Other than that though he sticks to mostly thrashy drumming.
Overall this album is fantastic. It has some minor flaws such as the production makes it kind of low sounding and you're going to have to turn it up to hear it well and also Jason's bass is sometimes inaudible. Other than that the songs are extremely catchy because it's thrash metal influences made it so the choruses have a sing along quality to them and you will be wanting to play these songs multiple times because they are so ear infectious. The songs here are very heavy and brutal as well, you will definitely head bang listening to this album. The instrumentation is damn good for the most part. Unfortunately Malevolent Creation could never top this album, they came close with Retribution but I think this one is slightly better for the most part. Brett Hoffman also had a much stronger range here than the follow up album, even though his vocals became more death metal sounding later one. I think I like this album better than all their others because the thrash influence on this album is extremely prevalent and it isn't full on death metal sounding, that's why I think this album is more pleasing for me to listen to, it also has Malevolent Creation's catchiest songs. All in all they could never top such a beast of an album which is a shame but this album will live on and I will always consider it to be a death/thrash metal classic.
PKendall317 on July 14th, 2011
Slightly Above Average Death Metal
If you're somebody whose exploring the roots of death metal, or a longtime fan of the genre looking to relive the 80's and 90’s, then this as an album for you. It’s reminiscent of a time when bands like Death, Obituary, and Morbid Angel were making their debuts, then Malevolent Creation's "The Ten Commandment's" is something you have to listen to. The Ten Commandments is Malevolent Creation's first album and out of the ones that I own and have listened to, probably the worst, but that doesn't mean it's a bad album, just average and in need of improvement.
For starters, Brett Hoffman's vocal's sound hoarse, as if he's already done them once before and is now worn out, and needs a glass of water. Also, he doesn't have much of a vocal range, and the pitch of his voice stays virtually the same throughout the entire album without going higher or lower. At times, like on "Remnants of Withered Decay," his vocals even sound sloppy and amateurish.
The guitarwork and drumming is what you'll find on essentially any death metal album from this era. It's similar to Obituary's early work or any other death metal band from the same time period and is fairly generic sounding. This is the main flaw of the recording, every riff; every drumbeat sounds exactly the same as the last one.
After you get through "Memorial Arrangements," the albums eerie intro, you get to the first real song on the album called "Premature Burial." Listen to that song, and play it ten times and you've heard the entire album already. There are a few notable tracks, like "Thou Shall Kill," and "Multiple Stab Wounds," but other than that the songwriting isn't very good.
Despite this, it's still enjoyable to listen to and has some good moments that foreshadow Malevolent Creation's future career. Although I criticized Hoffman's vocal's, he makes up for it with sheer verocity in his deliver, as if he's truly pouring out his heart and soul into his creation. And even though the drumming and guitarwork sounds generic, the musicians are still skilled, and know how to play their instruments, even if they lack variation on this album.
While it's not a bad album, The "Ten Commandments" isn't a good album either. It’s good ol' fashioned, slightly above average classic death metal. It's a fairly decent debut for what will become a good band, but that's the only real thing I can think of that makes it memorable.
autothrall on April 7th, 2011
Where were Crocket & Tubbs when you needed them?
Gaze into the crystal ball of this band's past, and you'll witness a familiar fable. A pissed off group of adolescent Floridians for whom the thrash metal genre was simply not excessive enough to vent its myriad frustrations. Admittedly, Malevolent Creation has never been numbered among the elite of the death metal genre, but they've nonetheless had a successful go of it, touring and releasing a large number of albums, sticking it out for the long run, a revolving door of members circling an axe slinging central figure: Phil Fasciana. But during those formative years of the scene, what exactly did this band have to offer those of us who were affixed on the conquests of their more highly regarded peers?
I'll tell you: Malevolent Creation offered an urban, ass-kicking alternative, a more immediate threat to the sanctity of your bone structure. While Morbid Angel and Deicide were consorting with Elder Gods and being in return broadcast intense waves of reeking apocryphal miasma, Nocturnus was performing a careful moon landing on alien soil, and Death and Obituary were emerging from the crypts and graveyards, Malevolent Creation was standing right on your street corner, pimping hos and collecting drug fees at the cost of blood money or human teeth. This was the brutality one was most likely to encounter when one strode out into the stinking night of the inner city in the 80s or 90s, fearing for one's wallet and more importantly for one's goddamn existence in a world of thugs and pushers. That said, stylistic comparisons are inevitable with other bands of the scene, in particular Deicide, who utilized a similar congruence of battering speed and neck breaking mosh splatter.
This album opens almost like some forgotten gangsta rap epic, "Memorial Arrangements", as last rites are narrated over some fallen friend or associate; the one difference being the biting despair of the guitars and drums, which open with chords and a warlike march against the lashing winds, then mutate into a thrash-like christening before the dire melody rings out. And then it's time to duck, as the bullet storm of "Premature Burial" comes howling at you, its projectile percussion seeking to permeate your vitals. Vocalist Brett Hoffman possessed a tone not unlike Chuck of Death, only carried further to a more grisly extreme, like a pissed off mortician who had seen one too many fallouts from a gang war or cocaine strung serial executioner. Drummer Mark Simpson is also tight, one of the more forceful strikers alongside Asheim or Sandoval, and he brings a particular weight to the deep thrashing matrix of Fasciana.
This band was also incredibly good at writing wild but punctual leads that helped whip the muted pummeling into an added frenzy. Malevolent Creation were very apt at creating a momentum here and then following it through, even when the breakdowns occur you just know they're about to fire back into a storm of onrushing traffic. Songs like "Multiple Stab Wounds" and the frenetic "Remnants of Withered Decay" seem like a natural and welcome extension of the brutality inherent in extreme California thrash like Dark Angel. The musicianship is so intense that even if the individual riffs weren't all that catchy, the band still delivered thorough excitement. That said, there are a few wildlings to stand out here like the arching, twisting guitars throughout the verses of "Impaled Existence" and charnel house romp of "Sacrificial Annihilation". All told, The Ten Commandments is like an instrument of blunt AND bladed compulsion that you might bring to bear against your enemies, an excise tax of eradicating force.
No, it wasn't exactly brilliant, and aside from the concrete and syringe strewn warfare implied in its lyrical musings, it did not bring as much fresh gore to the arena as the band's more affluent, influential statesmen. However, this debut is still a lot of fun 20 years later, and the band's no prisoners attitude towards extremity has absolutely stirred up a following. The mix is not so great here, one of Scott Burns' less impressive feats among the early wave, but I do like how the vexed vocals resonate like street vultures over the crashing undertow, and the leads sound like heroin addicted vipers. Sporting one of my favorite Dan Seagrave covers, it's a solid package that in my opinion, the band has yet to surpass, even though they'd tread darker, occult lyrical paths over the course of the next two albums (returning some years later to the pavement pounding aesthetics). Ugly, aware and determined. The Scarface of death metal.
morbert on April 8th, 2010
Where we hear thrash turning into death.
Here we have the debut from Malevolent Creation. A young bunch still sounding as a group wanting to have a go at the newly evolved death metal style but clearly grown up on thrash. While still a thrash metal band on their first 1989 demo they’d dive further into the Scott Burns sound by the time they recorded their second demo. And also the vocals took on a slightly more grunting attitude although there are still thrash metal acts around with a lower sounding vocalist (like some obvious Cavalera material). Just like Dave Vincent on Altars Of Madness, Hoffmann is on the raspy side of gruff vocals here. No lower than low grunting. None of that Cannibal Corpse muddiness.
Now this combination of 3/4 death, 1/4 thrash musically on ‘The Ten commandments’ together with Hoffmann’s raspy vocals makes this one of those albums nicely balancing between very aggressive riff and polka driven thrash on one side and death metal with blastbeats on the other. Best example of this mixture might be ‘Decadence Within’.
Listening back almost 20 years later it really sounds as a transitional album and that’s possibly the sole reason this is their only album I pretty much like to play a few times each year. The drums here don’t sound like typewriters yet and not all songs need to have a blast beat section. Choruses are catchier (‘Thou Shall Kill’ anyone?) because the thrash idea was still behind them and not forgetting to mention the (d)evolution of the grunt in years to come when vocals became less and less dynamic.
Malevolent Creation sound thrashiest on ‘Injected Sufferage’ whereas ‘Premature Burial’ clearly goes that other way with some Morbid Angel and Terrorizer thrown in and the rest of the album fluently finds its way through all this. All three songs from their 1990 demo and the older ‘Injected Sufferage’ are features and a bunch of new tunes.
But this history lesson aside, is the ‘The Ten Commandments’ good? Well, it’s a pioneering album from a developing scene with more than plenty of great riffs, hooks and choruses to stay entertaining the full length. On top of that a very recognisable vocalist, a suitable heavy production and over all a clearly eager band playing their asses off trying to convince the world. What do you want more? It’s just great.
goredisorder on April 4th, 2010
A death metal concept album?
The Ten Commandments kicks off with a haunting and disturbing spoken-word song about putting a man into his grave and what happens to him from there. “Memorial Arrangements” isn’t a relaxed intro, rather it sets the stage for all of The Ten Commandments, an album preoccupied with death, the morbid side of spiritualism, religious uncertainty, and the afflictions of a “tortured mind,” to quote the song eponymous with the band, ideas all depicted through vivid scenarios of lyrical bloodshed and slaughtering death metal.
Malevolent’s one of a kind style and riffing is at its thrashiest here, though still very much in the death metal camp. Sections of crushing sludginess are fused with a plethora of hammering away (hammertime without the parachute pants), the music more focused on speed than any of the subsequent Malevolent Creation albums but not without the trademark.. stigma be damned, BREAKDOWNS. Breakdowns that slaughter you and leave you begging for more. Breakdowns in random and unexpected places that help form elaborate song structures, NOT the breakdowns that got raped in every imaginable orifice by bands with floppy bangs in their eyes, that have unfortunately come to be associated with metal. These are as crushing as any proper breakdown should be, damnit. The volatile song structures make for an electrifying and unpredictable listen every time, even after you’ve listened to this album so much you have every riff, song shift, drum hit and grunt etched in your memory. There’s an absurd amount of material and diversity in The Ten Commandments, which surprisingly doesn’t even hit the 40 minute mark.
Similarly the vocals take on two different methods, at times painstakingly reminiscent of slow motion and at times so fast half the syllables are lost in a fury of tongue-twisting time constraints. A few variations come into play, like the computerized effects in “Impaled Existence,” the ghoulish scream towards the end of “Malevolent Creation,” and the previously mentioned spoken word intro, but a big range of styles isn’t needed to make the vocals sound as deliciously deranged and agonized as they are here. Brett Hoffman is one of the most evocative vocalists in death metal, hell all of metal.
I’m not sure if it is, but The Ten Commandments can certainly be interpreted as a concept album, starting with “Memorial Arrangements” being somewhat of a eulogy at a funeral. “Premature Burial” up next indicates that the buried was.. well no shit, buried prematurely, that is put in the ground while still alive and he’s wondering what will happen to his soul. “Remnants of Withered Decay” goes on to discuss a cold and ravaged land of the apocalypse and begs the question “where is the lord,” a religious doubt that’s referenced several more times during the album. And so on, each song is filled with ample amounts of gory visuals and typical death metal violence but a greater idea prevails beyond the sum of its parts, and ultimately comes together to weave a story.
One song “Injected Sufferage” stands out in that it discusses drug use and AIDS, not a subject commonly explored in death metal (unless you’re Death) – yet isn’t this synonymous with death? Like the similarly themed “Monster” discussing crack addiction on the next album Retribution, this is one of those songs that really make you think. The final track “Malevolent Creation” pulls the “..and it was all a bad dream” shtick you’ve probably read in a few dozen short stories, but indicates a sort of rebirth of the initially buried character and unexpectedly enough, the possibility of change of the ugly and corrupted world he’s witnessed.. yet at the same time indicates that any hope of change is futile. It comes full circle but is beyond intricate. I don’t want to get into a whole analysis of the meaning behind this album, but lastly I have to point out two things: one, it’s The Ten Commandments and there’s ten songs, and two there’s a song called “Thou Shall Kill!” so in addition to the scattered references to god, it’s hard not to consider the religious implications behind this album. Anyways, this is coming from someone who isn’t normally concerned with lyrics, but The Ten Commandments is special in a very strange way, it holds a lot of secrets behind the guise of death metal.
Back to the subject of death metal, this is an astonishing album to rise from the prolific early 90’s Florida death metal scene, though it seems like Malevolent Creation is a less familiar name than others. The Ten Commandments is nothing short of hard-hitting and essential death metal, and hard to believe this was damn near 20 years ago that Malevolent first put the embodiment of death on an album. A mandatory listen for any death metalhead – not only is this album musically awesome but it’s a masterpiece with a shrouded deeper meaning.
DemiseOfTime on March 4th, 2010
Exceptional Debut Ushering In A New Era
The year 1991 saw many a great debut album from Roadrunner Records, namely Gorguts "Considered Dead", and Suffocation "Effigy Of The Forgotten". Blending a style of brutal death metal with thrash roots, Malevolent Creation tore throughout he scene with their debut "The Ten Commandments". The early 90's were a critical time for metal, with many bands dissolving their thrash roots in favor of a more dissonant, chaos driven approach. This album is an excellent example of such "transitional approach", fusing the catchy elements of thrash with the down-tuned heaviness of more extreme acts.
While the instrumentation is obviously heavily influenced by bands such as Slayer and Bolt Thrower, Malevolent Creation manage to create layers of atmosphere. The double bass pummels your head as guitar lines weave in and out with precision; vocal lines and patterns paint landscapes of decay and damnation. Scott Burns produces yet another Roadrunner affair, remaining as consistent as ever. With all the elements in place, what could possibly set this band apart from the slew of similar releases at the time?
The answer is obvious; Bret Hoffmann. Besides delivering a refreshing vocal performance, Hoffmann conveys his lyrics like no other. These are some of the most descriptive, morbidly concise lyrics I have read/heard to date. For instance, take this passage from the track "Multiple Stab Wounds"; "Honed edge of deceasement, carving the sign of evil bliss; body left perforated , innocent victim of a twisted sickness, face smashed beyond recognition, broken pieces fall from the skull". This goes above and beyond the stereotypical religious/society rantings of similar bands. Hoffmann also has tremendous vocal endurance, forcing each line with conviction.
Most will look past this album in favor of "Retribution" (which, don't get me wrong is an amazing release) and totally miss out on a landmark album. Sure, the band sounds premature compared to later records, but it is their sheer approach and attack that makes this an underrated gem. In a time when bands were more or less ripping one or another off, Malevolent Creation came out of the gate like a steamroller destroying everything in its path. Roadrunner had some amazing releases back in the day; it's a shame that most bands these days fail to invoke similar atmospheric experiences.
While the entire album is great from start to finish, "Premature Burial", "Remnants of Withered Decay", "Multiple Stab Wounds", and "Sacrificial Annihilation" are definite stand out tracks. All in all, this is a very solid debut release from an often overlooked band. While many will argue over which release is best, there is little to no doubt that this classic stands the test of time.
JamesIII on January 27th, 2010
Ten commandments of old school death
Not being someone who generally falls head over heels for death metal, its an odd occurence when I stumble across a band in that genre I like. I have a tendency to tolerate some melodic death metal bands, especially Amon Amarth, who don't seem prone to becoming repetitive like alot of other melo-death bands do. Yet as for other varieties, I have found they are just not my thing. I do have a fascination with the earlier years of death metal, particularly the early temples of the genre in the Florida scene. I tend to enjoy alot of the bands out this period in time, particularly Malevolent Creation's "The Ten Commandments."
One thing to know why I dig this album so much has alot to do with Brett Hoffman. Hoffman's voice has more to do with the proto-thrash/death hybrids that originally spawned death metal in that the lyrics are dicipherable from the vocal performance put forth. Hoffman doesn't dive off the edge of the indiscernible death grunts that runs between frog farts and the soundtrack to coughing up a lung. Since that is often one of the reasons I dislike death metal so much, its always good to hear the earlier incarnations of this genre when the vocals were basically an alteration of the thrash variety.
In terms of musicality, I don't hear alot of interesting new ideas on this album as opposed to what came before it or even much in the variety department. This doesn't matter as much because the songs themselves and the album as a whole are strong to enough to overcome this. The opener in "Memorial Arrangements" is an introduction of sorts to the album complete with thunder in the background to set the album's tone. It might be insignificant of me to state this, but I always enjoy bands who implement introductions into their works as opposed to simply charging ahead into the aggression. It seems to create a sort of atmosphere for the album, albeit one of brutality in the shape of a mighty tornado that will suck you up and toss you into oblivion.
The highlight songs off the album have already been mentioned, including "Multiple Stab Wounds," "Injected Sufferage," "Decadence Within," and the well executed "Malevolent Creation" which ends the entire ordeal in a climactic fashion. I don't really see the need to break all these songs down bit by bit, as others have already done this and I can find little to add to their analysis. I will say that given my like of the Florida death metal scene, "The Ten Commandments" isn't perfect but it is a highly commendable effort. The music is excellent, the vocals are intelligible and it just works. I wouldn't make any bold statements about its status, though I will say it ranks pretty highly for 1991 in terms of death metal, but not to the point of the incredible Dismember's "Like An Everflowing Stream."
DawnoftheShred on May 20th, 2009
Thou Shall Not Suck
If each metal genre had its own set of commandments, Malevolent Creation would appear to be saints, as they do their best to follow all of the precepts of death metal piety. They got Scott Burns to produce this, their debut record. They got Dan Seagrave to do the cover art. They’ve got wordy, ambiguous song titles and a spiky logo. They got a guy in the band named Hoffmann. And rather than decide between writing gore lyrics or attacking religious and/or social constructs, they do both. However the most important Commandment, for any genre really, is thus: Thou Shall Not Suck. And like your average, semi-devout churchgoer with the biblical Ten, Malevolent Creation follow this most of the time; only a handful of failures have they to repent come monthly confession.
The Ten Commandments features ten tracks (shocking coincidence really) of thrashy death metal. You know, the kind that you’d find on an early Deicide record. In fact, Malevolent Creation are mechanically similar to their fellow Floridians in riff execution, vocal arrangements, and overall sound. MC have them beat in the lead guitar department, but lose out overall through lack of subtlety. The listener, however modestly educated in death metal’s aesthetics, should be able to begin predicting when the band will insert a blast section before the album’s end: they almost always precede them with a fast guitar break. Rarely does the music catch you off guard or challenge convention, as it’s just early 90’s death metal at its most blatant.
Predictability aside, they’re actually a competent bunch. The instrumental prowess of the band is at the very least equal to their peers and they actually are at their best when playing at mid-paced (or slower) tempos, as evidenced by that killer mosh break in “Sacrificial Annihilation.” The vocalist is also obviously committed to the effort, delivering one of the livelier performances I’ve heard on any death metal album. As for the track-list, there’s no room reserved for any sort of less-than-brutal nonsense, though they do introduce the album in a unique fashion. “Memorial Arrangements” is just a slow, funeral procession of a riff-set with spoken word introduction. It actually sets the mood for a much slower album (like a Sorrow record, perhaps) but it works out just fine as the prelude to 30+ minutes of raging death metal. Remember kids, variety isn’t something to shake a stick at; it’s going to bring out the best in your core sound.
So although The Ten Commandments suffers a bit from one-dimensionality and some average moments, it is still a spirited example of early death metal proper. Not exactly an essential record for the lot of us, but for those who live and breathe old-school death metal, this record will likely command a place of honor in your collection.
mot_the_barber on March 24th, 2009
I can understand some of the reservations that other reviewers have had about "The Ten Commandments." It's not as polished or musically mature as many other early death metal bands such as Pestilence or Entombed. It doesn't have any of the progressive or jazzy influences of fellow American acts Cynic or Atheist, either. The lyrics are about as silly and predictable as you can find in death metal, recounting tales of murder, rebellion, and being buried alive. Overall, there are a lot of reasons one could find fault with this recording.
But something about this album just clicks, despite its limitations. For one thing, as I mentioned above, it's more aggressive than just about anything I've ever heard. Malevolent Creation put their foot on the gas and don't let up for ten songs. It's actually to the album's advantage that it lacks the jazz- or classical-influenced interludes that characterize Pestilence and Atheist's music. They would only ruin the flow of an already well-paced album. The opening track, "Memorial Arrangements," is an intro of sorts, but it's not a slow, ominous keyboard intro that has become stereotypical in death metal. Rather, it slowly builds up speed and intensity, perfectly setting up the beginning of "Premature Burial." The songs vary in speed and style between slower grinding numbers such as "Premature Burial" and "Multiple Stab Wounds" and raging shred-fests such as "Sacrificial Annihilation." (However, I must add that nothing is too slow or too fast to comprehend well enough to enjoy, which is an issue I have with a lot of metal bands).
All the band members give competent performances on their respective instruments, with no one instrument sticking out or overpowering the others, and resulting in an extremely unified sound. However, I would like to mention specifically drummer Mark Simpson, who employs a wider variety of patterns and styles than most death metal drummers of that era. He never strays into jazz drumming or over-the-top technicality, but still provides drum parts that change enough from song to song that after a few listens a person could probably tell the songs apart just from listening to a few snippets of the drum parts. Another notable performance is given by vocalist Brett Hoffmann, who sings with a relatively intelligible mid-range bark that is a lot more fun to listen to than either pig squeals or death grunts. On "Remnants of Withered Decay" he even throws in a few lines that are actually sung on notes rather than just shouted. I don't want to call them "clean" vocals, because they're just as raspy and yelled as the other lines, but they have discernible pitch within the key of the song, which makes them different. This is actually one of the coolest parts of the whole album, and I wish more vocalists could do this sort of "pitched yelling" thing. (Matt Pike comes to mind).
All things considered, it's a great listen and a real under-rated steal of a great early Death Metal album.
CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8 on March 12th, 2008
Quite Good Debut
The sounds of a thunder and winds are the intro to the Malevolent Creation debut. The tempo at the beginning is slow, like a march with clean, narrating vocals, while “Premature Burial” finally shows the very first death metal impact parts with blast beats and lots of up tempo. The production by Burns is very good and powerful without being so clean but very “full” in the guitars sounds.
Here Malevolent Creation weren’t so thrash/death metal like nowadays, but surely more death metal in the structures and the sounds, more lowtuned and rotten. Anyway you can notice that there are not prominent influences and the group is quite original anyway, but always with an eye to thrash metal.
The vocals are not so screamed or growled but sometimes they are very similar to Schuldiner’s ones and they can be seen as the exasperation of thrash metal ones. The riffs on “Multiple Stab Wounds” are great with lots of tempo changes and fast solos, or also the screams in “Impaled Existence” that features slowest parts, more focused on the fast bass drum speed. “Thou Shall Kill” brings an higher dose of violence with faster parts and frenetic guitar work.
Surely tracks like “Decadence Within” or “Injected Sufferance” and the better, final title track, flow normally but there are few stand out moments here and even if the group is on total violence and adrenaline, there’s always the idea of “listened one, listened all”. Well, it’s not bad for a debut but the best has to come, for sure.
AllPowerToSlaves on April 22nd, 2007
We Are All A Part Of This Malevolent Creation!
The Ten Commandments was Malevolent Creation's 1991 debut on Roadrunner Records...and what a debut it was. As usual, Scott Burns would produce another classic in the death metal genre, and one that would remain for over 15 years.
The album opens with the perfectly arranged (no pun intended) "Memorial Arrangements". This intro sets up the atmosphere of the album quite well with its slow drums and chugging guitars. Brett Hoffman's most calm vocals are heard here; a few well thought out lines to sum up the death of a "wretched waste of a man". After this, the sickening riff to "Premature Burial" comes in, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. "Remnants of Withered Decay" and especially "Multiple Stab Wounds" are must listens. This album seems to flow so good, it's hard to not listen straight through every time.
Brett Hoffman does an excellent job, as always, with vocals. Slurring and spitting words in such a way that really portrays the goal of each song. Phil Fasciana did a damn good job with the riffs on this album. The guitars are crisp and clear, right up front. Scott Burns stellar production makes this one of the most listen-able albums the band has ever put out; everything is so organized and neatly presented here.
As mentioned before, stand out tracks include "Premature Burial", "Remnants of Withered Decay", "Multiple Stab Wounds", "Impaled Existence", "Sacrificial Annihilation" and of course, the closing "Malevolent Creation". This album is somewhat hard to find these days, but is a must have for any fan of older death metal.
In conclusion, check this album out and you won't be disappointed. While it's not their best album (Retribution and Envenomed are a VERY close tie), it certainly holds its own as one of the best debut albums ever. Check it out!
corviderrant on November 16th, 2005
Still Holds Up Well
"The Ten Commandments" was one of the first Florida DM albums I bought back in the day and it was pretty nice back then. This was before the scene started getting oversaturated and Roadrunner began cornering the market and contributing to that scene's death, mind you, so this was fresh and new for the time. The production had not degenerated into the mushy drone that characterized Florida DM no thanks to Scott Burns, it was still relatively individualistic. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Malevolent Creation were one of the better bands of this era--more like Slayer on steroids than anything else. The dirty guitar tone and frenzied yet controlled (and not triggered that I can tell) drumming and riffs give that away more than anything else.
Brett Hoffmann's vocals are distinct and (semi-) intelligible too, none of this Chris Barnes cupping the mic and grunting incoherently crap. He was a screamer more than anything else and he added a sinister edge to the album with his tortured shrieks and growls. His lyrics are pretty typical fare of violent death, violent death, and well...more violent death. What else would you expect?
The riffing is fast and precise--Slayer on steroids, as I said--and features a very appropriate guitar sound to go with it; saturated, yet not so distorted or downtuned that you can't distinguish individual notes. Soloing is minimal and to the point--not too much time spent on leads: Jeff and Phil get in, make their point, and get out before overstaying their welcome. A wise maneuver, too, because if they'd played more their limitations as players would have become more obvious. The rhythm section is good and tight too, with Mark Simpson's exceptional drum work leading the way. He doesn't rely on blasting anywhere near as much as DM has come to rely on it and varies tempos in a clever and creative yet solid manner. Jay Blachowicz's bass only pokes its head out here and there (the intro to "Injected Sufferage", for example), and he has a cool, punchy and chorused tone that is cleaner than you'd expect.
"Memorial Rites" is an excellent intro that sets a mood better than most filler "intros" of their sort do these days. It serves a purpose, and that is to lead into the album and warm you up for the onslaught that follows with its doomy riffs and mournful leads, as well as excellent drumming.
'Premature Burial" roars into the gap left by the hanging end of "Memorial Rites" with frenzied blast beats leading into a galloping verse (very Bay Area thrash, actually, in its precise triplet feel) and Brett Hoffmann screaming and snarling "Not dead yet, why I am ignored? Mourning for the dead!" on the chorus. His scream of "PREMATURE BURIAL!!!!" at the end of this chorus is hair-raising in its intensity.
"Multiple Stab Wounds" is menacing and evil, with a great chorus that starts "Termination's tool bites unwilling flesh!" with nice gang vocals on "bites". Nice double kick on the chorus too with ominous single note riffing over it. A right headbanger that is not too fast or too slow, rather it has a perfect midtempo headbanging feel.
"Thou Shall Kill!" features more Bay Area-sounding galloping riffs imbedded here and there, and yet another great chorus, in fact probably my favorite on the album, inviting one to scream along in mindless glee.
"Injected Sufferage" has a very cool opening bass riff (descending chromatic scale, gotta love it) leading into more punishing riffage in a song about AIDS sufferers. I kind of don't like the lyrics on this one too much--he seems pretty well homophobic and intolerant--but the song itself is heavy duty enough to make me forget about that detail.
"Malevolent Creation" ends the album on an epic note with urgency and power and not boring at all. It has a ear-catching beginning featuring more of those wonderful riffs and a truly evil scream from Brett at the end as they ride out.
All in all, this is worthy of eminent status in my book, as it captures the beginnings of an influential scene at its best and brightest. It's certainly better than a lot of the crap they cranked out after this album, let me tell you. Hunt it down or download it and see what I mean.
Milo on December 19th, 2004
Has its flaws, but still underrated
This CD’s historical moment is that when the death metal scene was starting to grow. Just like Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness”, Death’s “Scream Bloody Gore” or Possessed’s “Seven Churches”, this is still very tied to thrash. There is the trademark death metal riffing (downtuned guitars, no blanks between the notes), but still, lots of thrash riffs are to be found here. The vocals aren’t the established growls of nowadays, but a harsher version of the thrash vocals.
The 10 Commandants is not as praised as the CDs mentioned above, what’s a pity, because albeit having some downfalls, it’s pretty decent. There are some good riffs and tight drumming, never abusing the blastbeats and the double bass drums. This latter tool is very well used, fast and not constant. There are speedy parts and lots of midpaced ones, too. The bass is not audible, except by a little solo at the seventh track. The vocalist is somewhere within thrash (because the lyrics are intelligible) and DM, but he is very harsh and has some INSANE screams.
This CD has a pretty significant gripe: The midpaced, thrashy moments and tracks. The slower parts are responsible by the most boring moments in this listen. For example, the fifth track: lots of very uninspired midtempo riffs. The next track suffers of the same problem: while the faster sections rule so much, with their DM riffs, the slower parts are, at best, acceptable, not to say mediocre. There are also some recycled riffs: The eighty track one (near the end, with the blastbeats), which sounds almost the same as the intro riff at “Premature Burial” and the nineth track at 0:41, which rips off the third song’s intro.
The solos are also pretty forgettable. I’m damn sure everyone already listened to something that sounds exactly the same, even for when the album was released. And sometimes the solos are introduced without warning, changing the riff that came before into another one without warning, without a Dark Angel-like pause (…die in flames, die! *pause* guitar solo), without a little drum/bass fill before them. Sometimes that makes the song sound like a collage. To see how this works (or doesn’t), listen to the sixth track.
When they decide to speed things up to 99999 bpm, the CD picks up: Just listen to the first minute of the third track. The speed builds nicely as the riffs change in pure ruleage. As for the other songs, the faster, DM-ish parts are always good.
Highlights? The intro is pretty nice, with its doomy riff. In fact, this is one of the few intro tracks in this world I bother listening to. Premature Burial also rules, featuring some of the few good midtempo riffs in the whole album. The next track is amazing because of the burning speed, and the fourth one has a cool riff at 0:18 and a catchy vocal line after it.
Even though it has its flaws, this is an enjoyable album. Not good enough to be called legendary, but still decent and is worthy of a listen. It represents well the first wave of death metal.
The Ten Commandments track list
|3||Remnants of Withered Decay||03:55|
|4||Multiple Stab Wounds||03:34|
|6||Thou Shall Kill!||04:30|
The Ten Commandments lineup
|Jeff Juszkiewicz||Guitars (lead)|