Malice Reunion Show in Reseda, CA

By Michael Fischer, Writer, Cartoonist
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 @ 0:29 AM

At Paladinos

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Beware Metal Maniac's! 80's Godz of Thunder "Malice" are back!!!

"Malice" invade Los Angeles with supporting acts Xpeld, Intentional Rage, Imbrue, and D'evolution."

It's a hot summer Friday Night in the Rockin' San Fernando Valley in Southern California. A great night to experience the long awaited return of "Malice." Hands down, Malice are one of the best Heavy Metal Bands to come out of North America since they first exploded on the Hollywood Scene back in the early 1980's.

Malice returns with three original members: Lead Guitarist Mick Zane (Malice, Monster), Bassist Mark Behn (Malice, Monster, Ian Gillan), and 2nd Lead Guitarist Jay Reynolds (Malice, Metal Church). They have added new drummer Pete Holmes (Michael Schenker, Black n' Blue, Black Symphony) and their ripping new Lead Singer Brian Allen (Last Empire). Watch out Rob Halford! This kids has got some pipes!

It's been over twenty years since Malice performed their last show. As a long time fan of the band, it's easy to be jaded and skeptical about seeing Malice perform live again. Can they still do it??? Can they still pull off this material without their original wild eyed singer James Neal??? Well in short, the answer is Yes! There's no question former Malice front man James Neal had a voice that could rip a hole in the side of a tank. James was hitting those high octave notes long before Geoff Tate ( Queensyche ) and Ripper Owens ( Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Beyond Fear ). When you listen to the first two Malice records, it's clearly impossible to duplicate his raw tone and pure emotion. I would easily put Malice'S first two records "In the Beginning" and "License to Kill" up against any metal record for pure balls out rock delivery.

Tonight is Friday the 13th. What a great night to strap on a hockey goalie mask and hack up some hippie Phish Fans screwing in the back of a beat up Volkswagen Van down at Camp Crystal Lake. Tonight Malice are performing in their hometown of Los Angeles playing "Paladinos." Four walls, a bar, two bathrooms, Lights and a P.A. Your typical beer spilled, crusty, little rock joint in the heart of the beautiful San Fernando Valley. The home of "In n' Out Burger", "The Northridge Earthquake", and the "NHL Stanley Cup." The perfect setting for a full on Friday Night rock show and the return of "Malice!"

I saw a sea of friendly ole familiar faces in the crowd tonight including the "KNAC Camp", Heaven & Hell Drummer Vinnie Appice, and the singer from the band "Bitch" who used to open for Malice. The best thing about these Metal Reunion Shows is seeing all the ole' Rockers crawl out from under their rocks, and come out and party like old times. Basically you wanna see who is still under 200 pounds, still has hair and isn't on crack. ( And that's just the women ). Back in the glory days, you could find most any musician in Los Angeles hanging out at the "Rainbow" in West Hollywood @ 1 am, or in front of it passing out flyers and chasing around skanky stripper coke whores. ( And that was just me and "Bill Gazzari!" ) Back then it was a hair and mini skirt circus up and down both sides of the strip. It was always fun, and never dull like sitting on "My Space" now until your legs fall asleep. In the 1980s we didn't care how much a fucking gallon of gas cost, "Paris Hilton" was still a retarded sperm egg, "Headbangers Ball" was alive and well, RAP was not polluting the air, "Madonna" was still sucking dick for a record deal, half of Hollywood was blowing a hole in the ozone with hair spray, and there were never cell phones ringing in the "Rainbow Bar and Grill" to interrupt whatever it was you were doing in the Rainbow.

About ten years ago, Malice Guitarist Mick Zane was at a "Dream Theater & Fates Warning Show" at the Palace in Hollywood. He overheard these guys in the Palace Bathroom in rock conversation saying, "Dream Theater is great, but what ever happened to bands like Malice?"Mick laughed trying to keep from pissing on himself. Well Malice Fans, Fasten your seatbelts, your prayers have been answered!!!

It's showtime! The crowd is pumped full of liquid courage, four opening bands, and they are ready to see Malice! The house lights fade to the roar of the crowd as the haunting intro for "SINISTER DOUBLE" begins. The title track off Malice'S second record on Atlantic Records "License to Kill". The first thing noticeable about the band is the solid drumming of Pete Holmes. Fresh off tour with The Michael Schenker Group, he helps make this material romp to your highest expectations. New singer Brian Allen was absolutely on this night. It's no joke he can hit those high notes just like the record. He sang this Malice set live better than James Neal ever did. Solid performance from six foot tall stage bookends Guitarist Mick Zane and Bassist Mark Behn. Mark has to be one of the most underrated bass players on the planet. He carries the entire rhythm foundation of the band on his back like Geezer Butler. Respectfully 2nd Guitarist Jay Reynolds has always been a great spokesperson for the band and deserves most of the credit for getting the guys back together for this show.

The crowd went nuts as "SINISTER DOUBLE" was ending straight into the mind blowing gong intro swoosh to one of my favorite Malice songs "TAROT DEALER" off their first record "In the Beginning." Then you talk about the crowd going crazy. This is the shit right here. What an absolute killer tune and the lyric melodies on this song rule. "Tarot Dealer, deal me a fortunate hand!" I dig the mysticism of the early Malice lyrics. I was hoping they would play this song, playing it 2nd behind the lead off hitter was a nice spot eh.

Adrenaline pumped new singer Brian Allen took a moment to rap with the crowd. Just by first look, he will remind you of a young "Ripper" or "Halford" with the shaved head and heavy metal arm bands. Third the band then rips into "AIR ATTACK" another older tune off their first record. This song sounds a lot like retro "Judas Priest Stained Class Material." Screaming, straight ahead, and in your face. I also like the range and melodic tones on this song for being such a simple straight ahead tune. It has a cool break down part in the middle Jay Reynolds solos over. Another barn burner to get the set up to speed!

Time to slow it back down a bit. Song Four was "VIGILANTE" the last song on the first side of License to Kill again featuring the brilliant riffing of guitarist Mick Zane. Mick is solid and very tasty. He has his own style and his tone works very well with Malice. This tune is slower and really has something to say. Brian did a real nice job on this tune as well. He was in Grade School when Malice first hit the scene back in the 80's, so it's really cool to see the old school influence mix it up with the new generation. Brian really did his homework on these tunes to pull them off live and consistent.

Malice then presented a brand new song called "FIGHT THE FEAR." Still unreleased, it's slower, heavy and it sounds like Malice. I can't wait to hear the rest of the new material. It's good to hear Mick Zane writing darker brooding material again. Singer Brian Allen seems to have come into his own on his original material and vocal melodies reinventing what original Malice Singer James Neal had created. Very kick ass song. You guys are going to like this one! It got a great response from the crowd.

The band continued to pick the crowd up with "CHAIN GANG WOMEN." Song one off Side two of License to Kill. Jay wrote this historical rock anthem about a nice Backstage Party Girl, and most likely was a true story. The intro to this song rocks with Pete's bluesy dynamic high hat tap and Brian's staggering vocals at the beginning. This song starts out slow, and nasty like an old Van Halen tune that gets rocking like a mo' fo' and leaves you with a big fat lip. By this point about halfway the set, the band was really in 5th gear.

Next they played one of my favorite older tunes "NO HAVEN FOR THE RAVEN." If Priest has it's "Beyond the Realms of Death" and Dio his "Holy Diver." Then Malice has it's "RAVEN." What an awesome tune! It starts out slow and wicky, later intensifies mood and picks up speed after the last chorus leading into a heavy finale until brian is screaming "There's no Haven, for the Raven, No Peace of Mind!" Mick played out a great solo here at the end along with Brian nailing the high notes. Just unbelievable! Metal Music like this only gets more valuable and makes fans hungrier within time. For the record, Guitarist Mick Zane has always carried this band live and he still does. Mick never got the musical writing credit he deserved like guitarist Chris Degarmo in Queenryches early years. After shows like this, I'm sure that will change.

After a quick duel guitar change. Mick then rips into another classic favorite off their first record entitled "STELLAR MASTERS." This song crunches like a wild beast. "Stellar Masters" was originally going to be the title of the first record instead of "In the Beginning". Thanks to the record company, "Atlantic" didn't like the title. Like "Spinal Tap", they kept the black album cover, just changed the album title. This song sounded really good tonight. By this point the P.A was dialed in very well. The soundman did a great job and had the drums up in the mix early in the show without a soundcheck. Most everything came off tonight smooth without a hitch.

Malice then played "CIRCLE OF FIRE" one of guitarist Jay's tunes and the last song on License to Kill. Brian nailed the high notes in the chorus with ease "Circle of Fire, Surrounds Me, Circle of Fire, set me Freeeeeeeeeeee!" Just awesome and I was very impressed for the young new guy. He didn't hold back at all being he had some heavy boots to fill. There's only one way to sing and play this material! Mark and Pete did a great job locking in on the bass and drums tonight. All Star Rock Rhythm Section!

The tenth song nearing the end of the show they played "AGAINST THE EMPIRE." Song three off License to Kill which was originally produced and engineered by Max Norman ( Ozzy, Y&T, Bad Company, Megadeth, Savatage, Loudness ). This song sounded huge with Pete Holmes adding to the power of striking the intro punches. This song ROCKS! It's a mover. I like the science fiction lyrics and the whole war concept. How appropriate material for this day and age. Again another ripping solo from Mick Zane playing his Black and Green Classic "Randy Rhoads Charvel Jackson Guitar." Nice to see Mick back in the saddle after being a new born father this past summer. Like all band members, their joy to be back on stage shows in their playing. The band exchanged a lot of smiles tonight keeping the mood loose, yet business as usual. The main focus of the bands return is to do what Malice once did two decades ago, but much better today. And they did! And with no make up, and poofy hair spray!

Last song of the Night was another personal favorite "HELL RIDER." One blistering mother fucker of a song! Pete Holmes furious double bass drumming most likely made former Malice Drummer "Cliff Carothers" hide behind a trash can when they started this tune. Brian Allen also tore this song a new asshole on vocals proving once again that Malice is back and means biz. As HELL RIDER came to a crashing ending, Brain said "Thank You! We are Malice! Good Night!" and walked off the stage to the roar of the packed house. Looking around the audience it was cool to see everyone facing the stage with their arms and "Dio Fingers" held high in the air. That's Metal!

In honor the crowds grateful response, ( and ding, ding, ding just before last call for alcohol ). Malice returned for one last blistering encore. Much to our raging delight, they tore into "GODZ OF THUNDER." This is the last song off the first record and pretty much sums up the entire night as Brian screams the last chorus "Godz of Thunder, coming back to rule the World"! They really broke out the heavy artillery tonight. It felt like old times have come around again full circle for Malice and Metal Fans like us.

I cannot say enough good things about tonight's show and the Malice reunion only to say... "My ears have been ringing for 4 days straight, and if tonight's show was this good, imagine how killer Malice is going to be next year when the play the Headbangers Festival for 50,000 screaming European Metal Heads?!?"

Tonight's Malice Reunion Show was KNAC.COM 5 Star Pure Rock all the way!

Malice Reunion Show Set List:

    1. Sinister Double
    2. Tarot Dealer
    3. Air Attack
    4. Vigilante
    5. Fight the Fear
    6. Chain Gang Women
    7. No Haven for the Raven
    8. Stellar Masters
    9. Circle of Fire
    10. Against The Empire
    11. Hell Rider


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