I gotta say, I get pretty geeked when bands I dug in the 80's re-unite years later. The latest band to get back together is the lesser known Malice. It amazes me when bands like Malice re-form, because you always wonder what type of audience they'll be able to command. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited, but I just wonder how feasible it is to do this in today's economy.
Malice was supposed to be the next big thing when their debut, In the Beginning, dropped back in 1985, but unfortunately it didn't break them. Their follow up, the highly underrated License to Kill, didn't gain them much ground either. I think they were too heavy at that point to fit in the hair metal movement, and not heavy enough to fit in with the emerging thrash movement. They were one of those tweener bands that didn't get their due, because they didn't fall into the flavor of the moment. The band released 2 full length albums and one EP before calling it a day in 1989. The band re-united, well sort of, in 2006 and have just released their first new album in 23 years New Breed of Godz.
As with most reunions, it is tough to get the original line up back together, which was the case for Malice. The most noticeable piece of the puzzle, not to return, was vocalist James Neal. Not sure why Neal was not a part of the reunion, but to replace him, the band have recruited Helstar vocalist James Rivera. Another casualty was drummer Cliff Carothers, who is now replaced by Black N Blue drummer Pete Holmes. The encouraging thing for me was that guitarists Jay Reynolds and Mick Zane were still involved.
New Breed of Godz is a mix of 8 re-recorded tunes, along with 4 brand new studio tracks. Not sure why bands do this, unless they are just looking at a way to re-introduce the old tracks to a new fan base. The band hand picked some of the stronger tracks from their first 2 releases and handed over the mic to Rivera to do his magic. Unfortunately for me, it was a bit let down. I'm a big fan of Rivera, in Helstar, but I don't think he is a good fit for Malice, especially on the re-recorded songs. James' voice is so unique, that when he sings the classic songs, they coming off like sounding like a mellower Helstar.
The 4 new tracks are okay, but again sound like Helstar. The only new song to really move me was the opening track New Breed of Godz, but that was about it. The remaining 3 new tracks come off a little stale and tired. Not sure if they were newly penned, or tracks that have been laying around for the last 20 years. The one positive thing I can say about the record, is the guitar playing from Reynolds and Zane rocks. I was always a fan of this duo and was bummed that I never got to see them develop over an extended period of time. At least they are back now and we'll have them until this reunion fizzles. I hope I don't sound to coarse with this one, but I have to call as a I hear it. Being a fan of both entities it was tough, because on their own they are stellar, but together, I'm not sure it works that well.
Bottome Line: Reunion falls a little flat. A band trying to re-capture some of their past glory, but with a new lineup. Classic songs re-worked with an added bonus of 4 new tracks. Unfortunately the whole thing comes off a little stale.
Standout Tracks: New Breed of Godz, Against the Empire and Stellar Masters.
-Ragman this one kinda hurt.