The desire, enthusiasm and dedication of MALEVOLENT CREATION mastermind Phil Fasciana toward all things extreme metal cannot be faulted. After thirteen years of managing to squeeze albums out amidst label uncertainty and friction with assorted band members, it appears there might be some prolonged stability in the ranks. And how fitting it would be for "Warkult" to triumph by grinding past musical inconsistencies to dust beneath its steel wheels.
Impressively produced and mixed by KATAKLYSM's Jean Francois Deganais, "Warkult", as you may deduce, is some form of concept album about war — probably the most recent one in Iraq considering there's a song on here called "Shock And Awe". Whilst it's certainly a good thing that it doesn't appear to try and glorify the conflict to any degree, a little more shock and awe caused through the creative side of things would definitely have been appreciated.
Like the slowest tank in a battalion, this album edges its way toward delivering the goods, as opposed to scoring an instant, devastating hit on your ears. "Dead March" is a clinically ripping opener, especially in its instrumental early stages — beating out a fitting military drum tattoo, then letting loose with megaton guitars. But then "On Grounds Of Battle" — another slow-burning atmosphere-builder that appears much later in the proceedings — doesn't have half the killer instinct.
Thanks largely to Fasciana, MALEVOLENT CREATION continue to remain staunchly within the boundaries of death metal traditionalism on "Warkult". Thus, without experimentation, the main objective should be to ensure that every song has the capacity somewhere within its framework to pin the listener to the wall at fifty paces. "Supremacy Through Annihilation" does this, as do "Captured" (with its BOLT THROWER-ish chug) and the aforementioned "Shock And Awe" (which, after the opener, is the best track on here).
Outside of these and a few other notables, however, MALEVOLENT rediscover their bad old habit of falling back into line with death metal's lower-division players. Granted, "Section 8" has the odd reasonable guitar-based twist — but it's just so average in every other department. And on "Ravaged By Conflict" the blastbeat intensity really isn't that intense due to the unremarkable riffs it has to bear — as echoed by a thousand CANNIBAL CORPSE imitators.
So, a few key battles for metal hearts and minds won along the way here. Still no thoroughly convincing signs of MALEVOLENT CREATION winning the war, though.