MALEVOLENCE made everyone collectively shit themselves when they dropped their viciously brilliant debut Reign of Suffering back in 2013. Hailing from Sheffield, their confident combination of the shredding riffs of metal and the belligerent slam of hardcore meant that they were able to straddle both genres with confidence, resulting in tours with DYING FETUS as well as sets on festivals like Ghostfest and a headline slot at Shedfest this year. Returning this year with their new album Self Supremacy, released via BDHW Records on May 19th, how have the band progressed over the four years and how has Self Supremacy moved on from Reign of Suffering? We had the chance to sit down with vocalist Alex from MALEVOLENCE to find out all the details on, arguably, one of this years most anticipated records.
How did the hype that developed around you after Reign Of Suffering effect the writing process?
Alex: Well it definitely put us under a lot of pressure. The first album obviously received a lot of praise and a lot of positive press and it was an album that pushed us from being a local band to an international band, we did a lot off the back of that album so I expect people already have very high expectations for the album.
How did you approach writing with all of these expectations?
Alex: We started writing it about two and a half years ago, but we approached it pretty open-mindedly but we wanted it to be a continuation of Reign Of Suffering. In terms of the actual writing process, the formula was the same as the first one. Charlie (Thorpe, drums) and Josh (Baines, guitar) would sit on their own, jam some riffs and then jam the drums along with it, and then work it out as they go along. Then when they come to practise, they bring their ideas to the table and we can decide what we don’t like and which bits we do like and we kinda built it from there. In terms of lyrics, me, Konan (Hall, guitar) and Wilkie (Robinson, bass) have spent hundreds of hours just sat in my living room, once we would have the final demo of a song we just sit down, think of a concept for each song and then think of what we wanted to say.
Has that allowed every song to standout on its own?
Alex: Yeah, I think every song on this album has it’s own vibe to it. It’s all comes under the same umbrella of it being Self Supremacy, but every song has its own little tangent that it goes off on. We just thought more about different structures and patterns. We did a lot of trial and error on the last album.
How did you decide on what guest features you wanted?
Alex: When we were writing I had like a short list of who I thought would be cool to get on the album, but I didn’t know what song they would be on. So when we got the demos back and we had lyrics, I’d look back on the whole song and think “who would be best suited to this part?” or “who would sound best on this part?” So on Wasted Breath, there was just a part that when I heard it straight away I just knew it needed that deep growl, or that sorta vibe, and on another we’ve got Andrew (Neufeld) from COMEBACK KID, because we’ve toured with them back in 2013 and we’re really good friends with all those guys. For our style, it’s something a bit different I don’t think many people would expect that guest feature, but the part that he’s on it’s a really groovy, hardcore riff and his voice just suits it perfectly. He delivered it really well.
How difficult is it to balance the MALEVOLENCE sound?
Alex: Yeah on this record we tried to think a lot more about the structures of the songs. I think something MALEVOLENCE does really well is that we don’t really follow the contemporary song structures. So I think that’s one thing we wanted to develop from the first album. This is another reason it’s taken so long, because the songs MALEVOLENCE writes isn’t you straight, easy metalcore, cause we’ve all got these different ideas where we wanna take the songs and where we wanna go with it?
Where does MALEVOLENCE sit in terms of genre, are you guys a metal band or a hardcore band?
Alex: We’re a metal band, I don’t really like to pigeonhole us despite the fact we straddle both genres but to me we’re just a metal band. We built it from the ground up and the following we developed has been very loyal, but we’ve always just wrote the music we wanted to hear and let people interpret it for themselves.
MALEVOLENCE seems to be one of the few exceptions that metal and hardcore are separate scenes, do you think the scenes can be brought together?
Alex: I think in some cases they already are man, there are a lot of bands coming through these days that I would consider to be metal bands, and I think the two genres are so blurred and you’ve got your extremes of both, but I don’t think the two scenes are apart, I think they’re very much intertwined with each other.
What does the title Self Supremacy mean?
Alex: We had toyed with the name of this album a lot. What we wanted to get across with the title Self Supremacy, to us, was basically striving for the best outcome for you as an individual, and constantly pushing yourself forward no matter what obstacles are in front of you. That was the whole thing was this album, that this was something that, if it motivates anyone to go out and be the best person they can be then great. We took a lot of inspiration from bands we were listening to like HATEBREED, you know, you listen to that band and you wanna go and do stuff.
Was the concept behind the album title brought out by the four years spent touring Reign of Suffering?
Alex: Yeah, I guess so. It was always in our minds, especially lyrically, that we wanted this album to be much more mature and developed than the previous album, but yeah this album, pretty much from start to finish has been constantly either a delay or a set back, but that has definitely come into play.
Have the four years it has taken to write Self Supremacy made it the best album it can be?
Alex: Yeah I think so. We’ve spent countless hours sat in a grotty practise room trying to perfect it. Me and Kon spent just over a month in his spare bedroom, he built a vocal booth in his spare room and we recorded all the vocals at his house. We did it every night after work, I’d go round for like four hours every evening and we would just hammer it out and get it exactly how we wanted it because we were just so keen to make this record perfect.
Was the decision to have Konan take over more vocal duties one you wanted to make from the start?
Alex: Yeah, he features way more on the new record, on loads of songs. We had already dabbled with him doing vocals back on Reign of Suffering but this time round we did want him to do more, and working closely with him I think has let the vocals turn out just how we wanted them and having him take more vocals gives the record a good dynamic.
What do you want Self Supremacy to do for the band?
Alex: Ahhh, I don’t know…this is the hardest question. Well the last record Reign of Suffering took us from being a local band, to a national band and then to an international band, y’know we toured America with that record. So if Self Supremacy lets us carry on doing that, and lets us keep growing as a band then I think that will be a pretty good thing.
If it wasn’t already entirely clear, MALEVOLENCE are a band you need to be keeping your eye on. With a rabid following and a new record that will only bring more to their side, its probably for your own safety because it’s likely that MALEVOLENCE will force you to take notice. With direction and enough passion anything is possible, luckily these lads have just that as well as having the tunes as well.
Self Supremacy is set for release on May 19th via BDHW Records.
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