15 September 2010

DOWNLOAD: Malicious Intent - The Sound of Diesel

It's strange to say, but this band and album changed my life. It was released in 1996, and I was as friends with the younger brothers of Malicious Intent vocalist J.D. Smallridge. Our tight-knit group spent most of our time in the Smallridges' basement (still do upon visits home), but also attended a lot of local shows with MI on the bill. Once I had my license, I was driving to Charleston and Huntington for shows. Inspired by photographers Glen E. Friedman and Jim Marshall, I was always using my father's point-and-shoot camera to take photos of the bands and my friends at every show. To cut a long story short, years later I have a Master's Degree in photojournalism, and it all started with MI shows. I would also buy copies of The Sound of Diesel from J.D., and market and sell them on the Internet to people all across the country and even in Europe - which is still sort of what I'm doing with this blog a decade and a half later. It was MI and local music that helped me tap into a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, and for that I am grateful. Pardon the anecdote, I digress.

Released more than a year after Malicious Intent's debut 10-song self-titled demo (aka Creation Denied), Diesel builds upon previous song-writing efforts but the result is more rambunctious, confrontational and on the surface more angry than earlier material. The songs on this album are simply ferocious with each tempo change dictated by the beautifully barbaric drumming of John Stutler. Tension builds around every turn released like a fire axe crashing into the door of a house engulfed in flames. The tone of the guitars is even more tuned-down, gloomy and fractured than before. Though the guitar tone may unfortunately invite ill-conceived comparisons to Korn, it creates a sound that blends evenly with Smallridge's sore-throat-inducing guttural roars. While J.D.'s opaque vocal style makes his lyrics almost indecipherable, it adds to the enigmatic appeal of the band. But when the words do become clear for short moments like on "Pitchfork Eye" when Smallridge drones "Never again your whipping boy," one of West Virginia's most-memorable sing-along anthems is born.

While many death metal, hardcore or punk bands can sound like pure chaos, there is an element to the noise Malicious Intent created that was pure poetry. It was abrasive but comfy - a product of the of the personalities of its members. In the cassette's liner notes is a drawing of an ambiguous flower with heart-adorned petals with its tongue sticking out. J.D. thanks his family dogs; Dave thanks "people who are nice to me;" and John gives credit to Skoal and John Deere. Though the music sounds angst-ridden, at heart of this band were fun-loving guys playing loud, heavy music inspired by horror movies and homoeroticism. Ahead of its time in many ways.

Artist: Malicious Intent
Album: The Sound of Diesel
Year: 1996
For Fans Of: Neurosis, Crowbar, Hatebreed

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