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Time to Shine: Malevolence's Alex Taylor on Bringing Positivity to 'Malicious Intent'

Wednesday, 18 May 2022 Written by Will Marshall

It’s been a long time coming. Malevolence, Sheffield’s self-proclaimed “kings of the underground” are on the cusp of releasing their hotly-anticipated new album  ‘Malicious Intent’ and, when we speak, are currently enjoying a run of support shows with metalcore giants Architects in sold out arenas across the country.

But it’s not been easy to get to this point. The band have put in years of work to get here and have remained resolutely DIY throughout, to the point that during lockdowns they acquired and refurbished an entire warehouse space to be a home base. “We spent hundreds of hours in there, turning it into what it is now, and we run our whole operation from there,” vocalist Alex Taylor explains as we catch up just before they have to soundcheck. 

That means merchandising, practising, even recording, are all carried out there, something they’ve wanted to do for a long time. There’s even a gym. “It allowed us to be more creative with our time,” Taylor says of the space. That’s perhaps the most obvious physical manifestation of their DIY ethos. 

The next, and perhaps one of the most significant, is that MLVLTD, the ‘business’ arm of the band through which they sell not only their own music and merch but other bands’, have partnered with Nuclear Blast, one of the biggest independent metal labels in the world to release ‘Malicious Intent’. It’s a huge step for a band that have always, come hell or high water, done things exactly their own way. 

Part of their enduring appeal and gradual rise over the years has been their desire to incorporate this ethos into their creative work, pushing themselves from album to album and always trying something new to them or folding in more influences.

On 2020’s ‘The Other Side’ EP, for example, they pushed their sound further into groove metal territories in the vein of Lamb of God, and also introduced their first foray into balladry with the title track. “We’ve tried to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones,” he says. “We tried to do that on every release. So if you’re a Malevolence fan, then you knew this is the album that was coming.”

Something else that was a marked change around this time was the band starting to open up more about mental health, including their own. Before playing The Other Side they’ve often highlighted the collective loss experienced over the past few years and the importance of opening up to people around you. 

Coming into ‘Malicious Intent’, they thought it was vital to continue the conversation and ensure that listeners left with some inspiration or comfort. “It was important for us to drive home this message of positive aggression and strength…I feel better knowing that my lyrics might motivate someone in that way rather than just be about nothing,” Taylor reflects. That’s mirrored in Malevolence’s stylistic evolution, with The Other Side and new track Higher Place balancing out their pit-inciting hardcore with moments geared towards self-reflection and emotional impact. 

Those heavier songs, though, are not necessarily negative or angry. As Taylor tells us, “For the most part, I like to put out a motivational positive message, even if it is aggressive at the same time. It’s positive aggression.” That extends to the album title, which has more upbeat connotations for their frontman than might initially be apparent to listeners.

“You can have malicious intent towards anything,” he illustrates. “If you’re coming with malicious intent to be positive and smash your goals, then you’re going to do it. If you have malicious intent towards those who oppose you, you’re going to break through them and break through those moulds.” 

Taylor is at his most open and honest about his mental health on Salvation, which also features Trivium’s Matt Heafy, who contributes both guitars and vocals to the song. “It’s the most honest I’ve been about my mental health,” he says, adding that it was “kind of surreal” to have someone who was so formative to his own musical taste on a Malevolence track.

‘Malicious Intent’ is also an album about growth. Prior to the lockdowns, Malevolence didn’t necessarily openly speak about their own struggles, nor the pervasive culture of toxic masculinity within hardcore. “I lost a lot of close friends to suicide and mental health struggles. It felt right, to come out of lockdown and be having those kinds of conversations,” Taylor says. “I’ll never claim to be a poster boy for mental health, I’ll just speak from what I know…we’ve been guilty of [toxic masculinity] ourselves a bit [in the past]”. 

The sense of personal evolution, overcoming obstacles and forging their own path extends to the album artwork too, for which they worked with Eliran Kantor, whose immediately identifiable style has graced covers for both ‘The Other Side’ and death metallers Venom Prison. Depicting several figures stuck underwater and a man pushing up against the ceiling of a glass box, it’s both a summary of where they’ve been as a band and where they’re going. 

“This is a demonstration of power,” Taylor tells us of the album and that the art represents them breaking through that barrier. “With the central figure we wanted to create a sense of desperation, being stuck inside this box of water with no way out,” he adds, though he’s also adamant that this isn’t an album to depress but to invigorate and inspire.

As he says in closing, “I hope people can relate to it in their own ways, draw inspiration and use it for their own needs. But, at the end of the day we’re here to kick the door off and make an impact. It’s our time to shine.”

Malevolence's 'Malicious Intent' is out on May 20 through Nuclear Blast/MLVLTD.


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