As you walk into Birmingham's The Mill venue prior to a Knocked Loose-Malevolence double-header: a hardcore Lollapalooza that turns venues into seething, swelling pulsing avalanches of humanity, a drone flies across the room. One of the band members is flying the electronic device as the 7PM time for the doors to open creeps closer. “They have a new toy,” Malevolence vocalist Alex jokes as we cross the floor. Seconds later, a crash is heard and the glowing helicopter is plummeting towards the ground. “Well, that didn’t last long.”
The concept of flying across the stage before descending just as rapidly towards the floor was a fitting image, a visual metaphor for the cacophony of windbreaker-donning hardcore metal heads that were about to be tossing each other around like a swirling, black washing machine.
“It’s been incredible,” Alex states categorically about the current tour cycle at the outset of our interview. “Some of the best shows we’ve played. This has been my favourite tour so far and we’re only six days in.” Six days into arguably one of the best hardcore bills in the last several years , with a UK-US combination of the furious Kentucky-based Knocked Loose and Sheffield metal-hardcore-thrash hybrid Malevolence, two bands seemingly dead set on reducing most alternative music venues to matchwood.
The tour has already provided some highlights for the supporting act, including a monster-sized bill in Bristol the Monday before, featuring sets from Stray From The Path, Gideon and others alongside Knocked Loose and themselves. “1,100 tickets sold in 24 hours,” Alex reeled off. “I’ve never seen a show like that, just a constant stream of people coming over the barrier, energy all night.” It seems a reaction consistent with not just the genre, but with Malevolence in general, a band that has become to typify the aggression and rambunctious crowds now oft-associated with modern metal, something their vocalist is conscious of but tells us comes perfectly naturally to them.
“You’re not gonna beat the intensity of a 1,000-capped venue with no barrier,” Alex confirmed. “I don’t go out on stage looking to injure people but if I see a crowd going off I’ll give an extra 5 or 10 percent, if I see a crowd going mental I’m going to incite as much carnage as possible and get people over the barrier – that’s going to stick in their minds for the next 10 years.”
It’s not just the experience of Malevolence live that fans are likely to remember, it’s their sound. Malev are a sludge-ridden, toxic hybrid of post-hardcore, thrash, metalcore and Texas-blues, all concocted in the factory-filled streets of Sheffield. It’s a completely unique outcome from an area not remotely associated with the noise Malevolence makes, something Alex himself recognises when asked about the blend of genres he leads.
“By chance, more than anything. [We were] actually talking about this the other night, the hook to 'Serpents Chokehold', we wrote outside the studio where we were recording the album. “So we were finished recording for the day and we were stood outside the studio chilling, having a smoke and one of the guys were like *hums the riff* like right, okay put some words to that, we write it the very next day and it becomes one of our biggest hooks.”It’s something Malevolence are now trying to consistently replicate.
“We’re always trying to incorporate that into our songs, give it a hook, give it a catch-line. In terms of how our sound comes together, we draw from so many influences outside of metal and obviously hardcore, but I might throw in some patterns I’ve heard in a rap song, that kind of flow – just to give it our own Malevolence feel.”“We’re trying to play the music we want to hear, if the kids like it then great.”
Despite the improvisational nature of the song-writing, there is simultaneously a clear craft and focused meticulousness to the songs, which more often than not resemble metal jigsaw puzzles than the occasionally monothematic work of their peers. “Malevolence will never be one of those bands that put out a record every year - because we’re so fussy about what we pick and choose.”
The work has paid off however, with sophomore effort Self Supremacy being one of the more accomplished metal records of the last few years: brimming with ideas, creative drive and unflinching shifts in pace, tempo and sometimes – genre. Fortunately for fans, that hasn’t changed.
But some things have. So when can we expect new material? “Just finished recording, early next year – we’ve got a date in mind but all will be revealed soon.”And how will it sound? “It’s a change up – I’m not gonna give too much away but there’s gonna be elements of stuff that you love but there’s also gonna be some new things thrown in to surprise people.”
“I’m looking forward to gauging people’s reactions." With a new album coming in 2020 and a raging tour removing jaws around the country, there is more news seemingly confirming bright future for Malevolence.
“South America, Russia, back to America. They’re the three main ones we’re in talks with already. I just wanna see how far we can get, see how much fun we can have, see how much of the world we can see and meet new people and that’s it, that’s why I’m in the band." It’s that honesty and legitimacy that separates Malevolence and will no doubt continue to do so as modern metal roars into a new decade. If 2019 is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see what it brings.