Malice Divine – Malice Divine Review

When I first began reading the reviews forged within these hallowed halls, I was pretty much a power/heavy metal weenie. Sure, I liked me some thrash, some Death, some metal/deathcore, and my workouts may have been fueled by Amon Amarth, but I would have in no way considered myself to be an “extreme metal” fan. I recounted in my review of Necrophobic’s stellar 2020 release, Dawn of the Damned, just how important that band has been to my development as a fan of the more extreme end of the metal spectrum. After falling in love with their 2018 release, Mark of the Necrogram, I’d sought help from the commentariat, wondering how to continue my blackened studies. Several of you directed me to Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane, a recommendation that quickly won me over. Needless to say, I have a thing for some good melodic blackened death metal, so I was excited to hear the self-released debut album from Toronto’s Malice Divine.

Malice Divine is the brainchild of classically-trained Toronto musician Ric Galvez. The self-titled record finds Galvez handling the entire creative process and all of the performances with the exception of the drums. Known primarily as a lead guitarist in the Toronto scene, Galvez was excited about the opportunity to indulge in a solo project. But old habits die hard, and Malice Divine glistens like a guitar fan’s wet dream. Galvez combines the melodic blackened death sounds of Necrophobic and Dissection with the emotive soloing and progressive song structures of Death and the technical majesty of Wintersun, and he busts out the classical guitar from time to time to add some nuance and breathing room to the journey. He’s no slouch in the vocal department either, employing convincing death growls to add contrast to his phlegmy black metal rasps. Session drummer Dylan Cowan rounds out the performances with a powerful exhibition of rhythmic fury, making Malice Divine a polished and punchy package overall.

At nine tracks and 56 minutes, Malice Divine certainly had the potential to be weighed down by excess, but I’m happy to report that Galvez’s songwriting makes the album a cohesive and varied journey. The eccentric aggression of “Malicious Divinity” reminds me of the band’s countrymates Into Eternity, while the upbeat Celtic melodeath of “Triumphant Return” conjures visions of Ensiferum in my mind. I hear Inferi in the dark storytelling and technical melodicism found on “Ancient Vision,” and “In Time” is just a wild and satisfying ride through all sorts of blackened death realms, complete with shredding solos.

Malice Divine’s contrasting qualities of darkness and light, beauty and savagery, melancholy and might make the record an immersive experience. That’s why the only real complaint I can level is a small handful of awkward lyrical passages that break the immersion, at least in my experience. When an album works as hard as Malice Divine does to create an epic flair, adolescent lines like “you know that I am not one to be fucked with” and “I fucking reject your shit views of me” stick out like a sore thumb and momentarily sidetrack the record’s momentum. You can tell that this album is deeply personal for Galvez, and emotional expression can’t always come out in the most beautiful or mature of ways. Fortunately, these lyrical hiccups are few and far between and do little to affect the album’s overall impact. All of the songs have something to offer, but the album’s core section bookended by “Malicious Divinity” and “In Time” is especially strong.

My time with Malice Divine has shown me that Ric Galvez is a talented vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter, and fans of blackened and/or melodic death metal are highly encouraged to check it out. Malice Divine has planted their flag squarely on my radar, and I’m excited to see what Galvez comes up with on the next go-around.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 19th, 2021

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