WHO: One of the most innovative and criminally underrated technical death metal bands of the modern era, Malignancy has been releasing material since April of 1993. Their first full length, ‘Intrauterine Cannibalism’ was indeed a fantastic debut and is still a recording to be reckoned with. However, it wasn’t until 2003 with the release of this EP that Malignancy fully defined their wholly original and utterly divisive modern sound. Many fans of ‘Intrauterine Cannibalism’ think of ‘Cross Species Transmutation’ as the moment Malignancy completely lost their mind, rendering them incapable of anything except pinch harmonic abuse. As someone who discovered their recent work first (‘Inhuman Grotesqueries’ to be exact) I can say without hesitation that ‘Cross Species Transmutation’ is entirely deserving of reverence, respect and canonization as an American Death Metal classic.
WHEN: On July 22nd, 2003 Malignancy’s mad science experiment was unleashed on unsuspecting metalheads everywhere from United Guttural Records.
WHERE: Malignancy have and continue to hail from Yonkers, New York, adding to the already astounding amount of classic Death Metal from New York.
WHY IT’S A CLASSIC: At the risk of starting off too vague, no technical death metal has ever or will ever play like Malignancy. No other tech-death band has ever demonstrated this level of understanding when it comes to mind bending time signatures, drum blasts/fills and indeed pinch harmonics. To the untrained ear, Malignancy’s compositions are nothing but walls of indecipherable noise. For those of us who love and understand Death Metal though, listening to ‘Cross Species Transmutation’ is a bizarre and yet entirely wonderful experience. This EP is easily one of the most chaotic tech-death recordings I’ve ever heard. It’s also one of the most precise, brutal and utterly destructive recordings I’ve ever heard. Aside from the mood setting intro, this is 16 minutes of non-stop sensory assault. Many will come away shaken from this, I won’t lie. I know I did the first time I stumbled across the title track. Now I listen to it and this album almost all day, every day.
HOW: Ron Kachnic, Danny Nelson, Lance Snyder and Roger J. Beaujard. Musicians of the highest caliber who collaborated together to create something unlike any tech-death that had come before or since. Ron Kachnic in particular deserves praise as one of the greatest living guitar players and indeed one of the greatest Death Metal guitarists of all time. He really is THAT extraordinary. Ron has singlehandedly created an entirely distinct and untouchable style of Death Metal riffing that is his and his alone. If someone tells you they’ve found better pinch harmonics than the ones Ron Kachnic belts out, they’re lying. No other guitarist is capable of utilizing so many NEARLY as well. Lance Snyder compounds the stringed attack with soft spoken yet entirely crushing bass lines. Roger Beaujard of Mortician fame delivers unimaginably precise and controlled drumming. It really is extraordinary to hear how he goes from slower and all encompassing to bludgeoning blast beats within what seems like nanoseconds. Danny Nelson rounds off the equation with growls that would make almost any aspiring vocalist give up the microphone. As a lower medium ranged growler, Danny’s vocals are the kind of kick in the ass that inspire me to hone my technique to it’s very finest level. Granted, he isn’t Matti Way or Phlegeton but his lows are downright unbelievable, to the point of variation being less important than the sheer quantity of his growls. Combining all of these elements creates an EP that stands with the likes of ‘Despise The Sun’ as a band defining and genre defining release. You have absolutely no excuse to not love this release if you’re into Death Metal.
More info on Malignancy can be found here; http://malignancy.com/
(Also, as an added bonus, this is the music video for the EP’s title track ‘Cross Species Transmutation’.)
(For those so inclined, try out The Malignancy Drinking Game; every time you hear a pitch harmonic, take a shot.)