Death vets Malignancy foresee end time, post-Apocalyptic existence on ‘Eugenics’

We all have, what, a little more than two months to live? That’s why I’m done bitching about football season being bad for my team, because we’ll all be dead and gone way before the next Super Bowl will be played. So James Harrison, get your shit together. You don’t have long to live.

OK, I don’t believe that for a second, and as pumped as the Mayan prophecy people get about the end of the world, it’s not going to happen. Or it’s not going to happen for that reason. Also, the alleged Mayan Armageddon falls on my wife’s birthday, so that’s a pretty lousy way to celebrate, no? But in the metal world, we’ve long been obsessed with end times, destruction, and death, and it’s almost like the genre couldn’t exist without those things. Just look at most of our T-shirts. Bloody, right? It’s because our minds belong in dark places, and metal easily helps take us there.

So it is with the third (only third?!) full-length from legendary New York death/grind outfit Malignancy’s run that we really get our hands dirty with this extinction business. “Eugenics” imagines a post-Apocalyptic Earth, where a race of survivors is forced to live far underground with just enough means to continue with their lives. They thrive with generators, an air supply, and waste management (let’s not brush this off … very important to have), as they live their final years as Earth’s sole inhabitants. But we also have the issue of eugenics to consider, which is the study or belief of improving human life by reducing human abnormalities or negative traits and encouraging reproduction by members of a race that are deemed to have positive qualities. It’s a lot to consider, and since this record slams by in about a half hour, you don’t get a terribly long time to consider the actions and consequences.

Malignancy’s history traces back to the early ’90s, when they came up alongside other notable death metal units such as Incantation, Immolation, Mortician, and Suffocation. They always leaned to the technical side of death and grind, but not so much that they lost focus of what’s truly important, that being creating strong, effective songs that aren’t overshadowed by prowess. Despite their two decades of existence, however, the band only has offered up two other albums, their 1999 debut “Intrauterine Cannibalism” and 2007’s “Inhuman Grotesqueries,” along with some mini and split releases. And like the titles of those records imply, horror, filth, violence, and flesh consumption often were subject matters there to turn the stomach while their music crushed your neck. Pure, classic death through and through.

With 11 new splattering tracks in tow, the band–longtime vocalist Danny Nelson, guitarist Ron Kachnic, drummer-turned-bassist Roger J. Beaujard, and drummer Mike Heller–still are able to disgust you, but the storyline that is built into the record also should provoke thought. There are a handful of current issues that, if agitated properly, could trigger a worldwide cataclysmic event, and we could end right alongside the people documented on this album. Also the matter of eugenics, while not explicitly discussed in the news, certainly is relevant considering some of the issues of the current presidential race. This hits close to home.

After a bizarre intro that mimics a radio dial zipping around the find weird transmissions and oddball songs, it’s right into “Type Zero Civilization,” a tricky, speedy song with Nelson at his belchy best. The title cut then launches, and it’s a feast of technical brutality, with growls and shrieks all around and some really great guitar work by Kachnic. “Extinction Event” isn’t tough to figure out lyrically, as it’s the event that launches us into underground madness, and it’s full of monstrous vocals and stunning playing that hit just right. “Global System Collapse” has a neat, clean opening that reminds me of early Testament, and it eventually blows up and rips your face off. By the way, awesome bass trickery by Beaujard on this one.

“Cataclysmic Euphoria” is a total assault on the senses, with deep lurching growls from Nelson and jackhammering from the rest of the band. “Separatists” lets things get a little prog-minded, as the drumming takes on a neat pattern, the guitar work gets swoopy and spacious, and the mind-set changes a bit. At least for one song. “Monstrous Indifference” is gut wrenching and fast, while “Cryptobiosis” has so much going on that it’s bafflingly tough to pin down, even with its short running time. “Creatures of Conformity” is fast and animalistic, while closer “The Breach” is lightning fast, disruptive, and a serving of complete brutality. Its tempo and approach seem to indicate that our little underground world may not end so nicely.

“Eugenics” is another impressive display of expertly played death metal and disgusting fun. But at its heart is a sobering story that shouldn’t altogether be relegated to fantasy and sci-fi land. Things in our world are not as stable as some people may have you believe, and while it would be nice if all those issues were averted like the nuclear war fears of the 1980s, that’s not a given. If one day you’re living underground, remember Malignancy told you this might happen.

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