Album Review: I Declare War ‘Malevolence’

‘Malevolence’, the third full length release by Seattle, Washington Tech-Death metal band I Declare War, is a solid release with 11-tracks of blistering, down-tuned heaviness. The lyrics are just as in-your-face as the music (should you be able to understand them) and if you’re feeling particularly pissed-off at the government, religion, etc…, this may just be the album you need to get some of that aggression out. 

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Make sure to check out Jonathan Huber’s Top 10 horror list HERE.

The album starts off with the title track, ‘Malevolence’, which is an intro for ‘New Age Holocaust’. I’ll talk about these two songs as though they were one, for the sake of being able to talk about each instrument. ‘Malevolence’ starts off with about 25 seconds of sampled noise and snippets of the rest of the song, just heavily EQ-ed to sound like it’s coming out of a broken TV or an old AM radio. Then the full produced band kicks in and the production of the album becomes a bit clearer. The guitars are heavily saturated in distortion, making it difficult to distinguish what notes are being played in the lower registers. The tone of the bass adds to some of that muddiness. The cymbals are poorly mixed throughout the album, with some being far louder than others and the overall sound of many of the cymbals is very trashy and thin. The bass drum, however, has a great thump to it and the snare has a sharp ‘pop’. Jonathan Huber’s vocals are not really my style but I’m constantly impressed at how low and evil his vocals sound. They are mixed in very well but, due to his vocal style, I have troubles understanding what he’s saying. Ah well, that’s what album liners are for. Lastly, the album seems to be missing that top end ‘sparkle’ that might’ve countered the muddiness in the low end. 
Also, the track ‘Malevolence’ is musically a great soundtrack to the artwork of the album, which is done by the same people who have done some of the artwork and photography of Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore, Jeff Loomis, Lazarus A.D. and others.
Musically, these guys know what they like to play, the stick to it and they do it well. There are very clever passages where the guitars (Evan Hughes and Chris Fugate) don’t so much duel as they trade off riffs and harmonies. The drummer (Ryan Cox) plays what the song needs and doesn’t overplay, adding in clever passages here and there. The bassist (Brent Eaton) keeps it simple and low, filling in some voids where necessary and keeping silent when he should. Lastly, singer Jonathan Huber’s vocals perfectly match this style of music.
Lyrically, this album is full of anti-government slogans, critiques against the health administrations and foreign policies and a great deal of animosity against religion. The lyrics are nowhere near subtle but they drive the point home: These guys are pissed. 
Overall, ‘Malevolence’ is a solid tech-death metal album that boasts some heavy, intricate songs that are marred by some production problems. 
3.5 out of 5