Review Summary: A serviceable third effort from one Florida death metal's more overlooked bands, marred by awful production and some uninspired songwriting.
Malevolent Creation first made a name for themselves with the release of their debut album The Ten Commandments
in 1991, a year which saw the release of Death’s Human
, Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten
, and numerous other albums that are now considered to be landmarks of death metal. While The Ten Commandments
may not be held in such high regard as other death metal albums released around that time, it is thought of by many as a minor classic in its own right. 1992 saw Malevolent Creation take the sound of their debut and refine it to lethal effect on their sophomore album Retribution
. At this point in their career, with two very solid albums under their belt, Malevolent Creation were primed to be a staple among death metal fans for years to come.
The band released their third album Stillborn
in 1993. Sporting intriguing cover art by Dan Seagrave, the album opens with an eerie sample taken from the classic 1986 sci-fi action movie Aliens. It is directly after this that the listener is jarringly made aware of Stillborn
’s biggest issue: its production.
At the time of the album’s release, Malevolent Creation’s record label Roadrunner Records had a tendency to let some of the death metal bands on its roster fall by the wayside. One of the more well known examples of this is the botched production on Suffocation’s second album Breeding the Spawn
which was, coincidentally, also released in 1993. While the actual musical content of Stillborn
may not be as compelling as what can be heard on Breeding the Spawn
, both are competent albums hampered by very poor production. Perhaps the biggest production flaw on Stillborn
is frontman Brett Hoffman’s vocals. On Malevolent Creation’s first two albums, the production allowed Hoffman to deliver his signature bark with as much conviction as someone can possibly have when yelling and screaming about committing murder. That is not the case here. On Stillborn
, it sounds as if Hoffman was asked to record his vocals while sitting in a garbage dumpster with the the lid closed...with his microphone set up OUTSIDE the dumpster. The rest of the band members don’t escape the album’s subpar production either. The instruments are all mixed extremely high, giving the listener’s ears practically no breathing room. Essentially, the album sounds like a wall of muddy sound. This begs the question of what Stillborn
would have sounded like if it had been produced by Scott Burns, the legendary death metal producer who worked with Malevolent Creation on their first two albums.
is standard old school death metal fare. The band’s signature style of alternating between groove-laden riffs and furious blasting is present throughout the album. This style is perhaps best represented in the closing song Disciple of Abhorrence. What really stands out when listening to this album is the apparent lack of evolution in the band’s sound. Whereas Retribution
saw the band honing and perfecting the sound of their debut, Stillborn
feels somewhat like a retread. The songwriting is not poor by any means, but most listeners would expect something more ambitious from a band releasing its third album than what is displayed here. The moments when Malevolent Creation play at tempos that are downright slow by their usual standards, specifically on the album highlight title track, add some variation to the chaos of the band’s sound.
is a competent release by a band that tends to be forgotten amidst the heavyweights of old school death metal, particularly in the Florida death metal scene. It is certainly not a groundbreaking album for Malevolent Creation, and this lack of evolution in sound combined with the album’s terrible production keep it from being held in high regard like The Ten Commandments
. However, fans of old school death metal are sure to find some enjoyable moments throughout the album.