Malefice - Awaken the Tides (Metal Blade)

Malefice have yet to drop a musical ball; Awaken the Tides suggests they're not going to start any time soon.

Malefice has been one of the most consistent young metal bands of recent years. Following up 2007's critically acclaimed debut Entities and the frankly excellent Dawn of Reprisal in 2009, Awaken the Tides is the British five-piece's second outing on Metal Blade and first full-length with new drummer Chris Allan-Whyte following original skinsman and founder member Craig Thomas's departure last year.

The presence of a new drummer is instantly obvious on the album opener/title track. Allan-Whyte kicks the doors to Awaken the Tides open with a series of blastbeats and rolls, the likes of which haven't featured on previous Malefice numbers. Dale Butler, still only 25-years old, pushes himself to the edge on follow up track Baying for Blood and reaches the levels of vocalists twice his age and experience. There's a raw emotion to his voice, particularly during a chorus of double-kick and heavy riffing.

Former tour buddies Devildriver have clearly been an influence on Malefice's musical direction, most notably on Flood of Red, but there's a fantastic array of sounds and genres throughout Awaken the Tides that make it a truly compelling album. The melodic Minutes, which includes a string section in parts, has the potential to be painfully cheesy but instead it's a well composed head-banger, Outnumbered, Outgunned kicks in with a shade of Goatwhore and Delirium has the speed and madness of Machine Head's Blood for Blood. Keep listening past the 'end' of closing track The Haunting and there's a showcase of Butler's actual singing voice over an accoustic guitar. He may be a tattooed beardy but the bloke can hit a nice note.

Awaken the Tides is the best thing Malefice has done to date. This isn't just because it's their heaviest album by far; it's because everything works so bloody well that it's difficult to pick fault. Allan-Whyte's addition to the roster has made an enormous difference to the overall sound, Butler's vocals continue to impress, Ben Symons (guitar), Alex Vuskans (guitar) and Tom Hynes (bass) unite perfectly to create a wall of musical ire; Malefice are fast becoming a serious force in the metal world. Greatness beckons, and rightly so.

Awaken the Tides is out now on Metal Blade