Malice – “In The Beginning…” (1985)

I don’t want to call Malice a poor man’s Judas Priest because, in my opinion, (in the 1980s) Judas Priest was a poor man’s Judas Priest!  (I’ll save that diatribe for another day.)  Let’s talk Malice.  Yes, there was definitely a Judas Priest vibe happening with Malice.  Particularly with regard to vocalist James Neal, whose voice sounded like that of Priest’s Rob Halford.  On two songs in particular, Air Attack and The Unwanted, Neal does a dead-on impersonation of ol’ Halfie!  As for Malice’s overall sound, I find it to be like a lobotomized Judas Priest (that is, ’80s Priest) dipped in some tasty L.A. glam-metal sauce.  Malice fused the two styles fairly well, and the result was a very palatable mid-paced commercial metal foray.  The vocals were up front in the mix.  That’s a good thing because Neal’s performance is the album’s absolute highlight!  By contrast, the drum and guitar performances were relatively understated.  Malice seemed to have intended for In The Beginning… to be very commercially accessible, and as such let Neal’s vocal talents carry the day, rather than creating a wall of sound with screaming guitars and ferocious drumming.  When courting L.A. style metal on In The Beginning…, Malice makes the grade with irresistible knuckleheadedness; check out Rockin’ With You and Squeeze It Dry.  Shades of Black ‘N Blue’s rockin’ debut from 1984!  As for Malice’s more metallic, Judas Priest-style, check out Godz Of Thunder.  The only real drawback of In The Beginning… that comes to mind is that several of the songs lack a strong chorus (for example, Air Attack, Hellrider, and Stellar Masters).  Though Malice were one of the more hyped L.A. bands at the time, and signed by major label Atlantic Records, In The Beginning… was not a commercial success.  The band cited poor label promotion as reason for the album’s failure to catch on.  My score: B+

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