Malice – “License To Kill” (1987)

Great things were expected from L.A.’s Malice at the time of their 1985 debut In The Beginning… (Atlantic Records), but unfortunately the album was not a hit.  Malice were unhappy with the production job on In The Beginning…, as well as Atlantic’s lack of promotion.  In 1987, Malice returned with their second album (again on Atlantic).  Called License To Kill, the album was heavier than the debut.  License To Kill was produced by the incomparable Max Norman (so you know it sounds great).  The most notable difference here, compared to In The Beginning…, was that the guitars were dialed up quite a bit, helping to give License To Kill a heavier sound.  This showcased the sharp, Judas Priest-style playing of Malice’s guitar duo of Jay Reynolds and Mick Zane.  Yes, the somewhat maligned Judas Priest influence of the debut was still ever-present with Malice on License To Kill, but wisely vocalist James Neal stayed away from out-and-out impersonations of Rob Halford this time ’round.  The best songs on the album are the first two, Sinister Double and License To Kill.  On the whole however, I actually prefer In The Beginning… to License To Kill, as I feel it has catchier songs and a little more variety.  But if you want a more straightforward metal style without the L.A. glam elements of In The Beginning…, you may prefer License To Kill.  Either selection will leave you with some very good (though not great) eighties metal in your grubby little hands.  My score: B

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