Retrospective: Malhavoc’s “Premeditated Murder”

Back in 1992, something really special happened up in Canada: Malhavoc put out an album that one could call “electronic” that didn’t make metalheads run screaming. It was actually totally engaging, completely freaky, and incredibly moving. It was Premeditated Murder.

Malhavoc’s first album, 1990’s The Release, was certainly good as well, and their ’92 EP Punishments rules (and legitimately scared me when I heard it as a young teenager), but with Premeditated Murder, the band (more or less the brainchild of one James Cavalluzzo) really created something special, the band tapping into—or, perhaps, creating—a totally engaging and rewarding sound that certainly had longhair appeal while managing to be totally not metal, a holdover vibe from the band’s earlier, thrashier, days (also bonus points for usually being filed right next to Malevolent Creation in our cassette collections).

Opener “Premeditated Murder Theme” set the tone well, the band taking of-the-era pop culture sounds (a loop from “It Takes Two”) and sludging them up a bit, then adding in their own sounds, which were like industrial if industrial wasn’t always so embarrassing. The song is more of a warning than a song, and it’s a great way to start the album (the use of the samples also scared off some American distributors, preventing this song from being released in the USA). It leads into “Languish,” which showcased the band’s ability to add melody in to their driving industrial metallic rock, three words which together are usually a huge red flag, but here equate excellence.

Next up is “Solitude,” which has long been my favorite song on this album, the band managing to create a very evocative sound out of a lot of elements that don’t generally bleed emotion; although I never really found music like this again (although maybe it’s out there; my explorations into electronic-based music haven’t gone far, admittedly), Malhavoc certainly opened my eyes to a whole other style of music with songs like this great track.

“Crusade” is catchy as hell, “Conspiracy” would be cheesy in the hands of lesser talents but Malhavoc make it rule, and “The L.O.C. (Loss of Control)” is frantic techno/industrial/metal, which sounds horrid on paper, but fused with Malhavoc’s sinister and twisted atmosphere, it’s awesome. I love how things just fall apart at the seams as the song nears its conclusion, which fed into this idea as Malhavoc as an explosive and fragile entity.

“Kill (Dislocated)” is next, with its jarring intro and relentless forward momentum, the band taking the listener and forcing them through this onslaught of an album with a cool and heavy, and disorienting, track. Big metalhead appeal here. Then there’s “Dead”:

Here, the band suddenly channels their inner death metal fanatics and lays down the album’s most raging song, one that matches the cover art, which features the black hole so popular with cavernous DM bands of the modern era. And that Zep/Stones sample mashup that suddenly comes in at 1:24? Brilliant. Through in some blastbeats and you’ve got the album’s most extreme track, and it rules. Then “Extro” ends off the new stuff on Premeditated Murder with an outro that’s actually pretty effective, dramatic, and enjoyable to listen to.

The fun’s not over yet, though, as there’s a song from 1985 (“Beginning the End”) as well as four from 1987 (including a cool, jarring remix of “The L.O.C.”) to keep the fun going. All good tracks and actually pound for pound even more metallic than the Premeditated Murder songs (and “Masque of the Red Death” rules), although by the time “Extro” ends off, that alone is enough to make the listener realize that, wow, that was quite a journey that Malhavoc just took us on, one that bent minds in 1992 and is still capable of doing serious damage today, even to those already permanently scarred from a life of extreme metal.