New Breed of Godz [CD+DVD]
Unlike so many second-tier American heavy metal bands of the early 1980s, Los Angeles' Malice had the decency to break up instead of dragging an underperforming brand name through years of muck and music buyer indifference (yes, we're looking at you, Virgin Steele, Lillian Axe, et al). Fact is, Malice's competent, trad metal-influenced pair of LPs for Metal Blade (1985's In the Beginning… and 1987's License to Kill) didn't stand a chance against thrash and glam metal when it came to winning over fans' hearts that first time around. And while we can promise you that this 2012 return via third album, New Breed of Godz, isn't going to transform these veterans into belated superstars, the abiding good will for vintage metal sounds at the time of its release will surely work to their advantage. Too bad the newfangled Malice -- spearheaded by original guitarists Jay Reynolds and Mick Zane with an assist from journeyman singer James Rivera (Distant Thunder, Helstar, Vicious Rumors, etc.) -- decided against resurrecting those early-'80s hallmarks for their fans' nostalgic pleasure. Rather, Godz sees them embracing modern clichés common to melodic classic/power metal, ultimately resulting in yet another batch of songs as efficient and faceless as those previous albums, long ago. Mind you, technically, there's nothing wrong with numerous double-kick-drum-driven offerings like "Branded," "Godz of Thunder," and the title track -- nothing, that is, other than sounding pretty much like every other modern "classic" metal band in the universe. i.e. Ripper Owens-fronted Judas Priest. Blaming Rivera's vocal resemblance to the Halford school is no scapegoat, either, since Zane and Reynolds' songwriting is ultimately to blame for its own blah-ness (see the Priest gimmick magnet "Stellar Masters") and the dearth of truly undeniable headbangers like the Harley-powered "Hell Rider" and the contagious "Sinister Double." What about the mandatory power ballad, you ask? See "Winds of Death" -- check! And the inevitable, forehead-slapping, Spinal Tap-worthy macho metal anachronism? Behold "Chain Gang Woman." Sigh... In sum, New Breed of Godz disappoints, not as a decent piece of mainstream metal -- that it is -- but as a missed opportunity for Malice to prove they had more originality to offer than was suggested by their '80s failures.