Published on February 20th, 2018 | by Justin G.
Malice: License to Kill (Rock Candy)
One of the very first of the Metal Blade bands (they were on Metal Massacre I with Metallica), Malice remains a cult classic ‘80s era heavy metal band. They released just two albums (no, I’m not counting the “Malstar” comeback album), both of which are blistering servings of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest-inspired power metal.
Originally released in 1987, License to Kill was Malice’s second album. Like In the Beginning, License to Kill sounds like an Americanized version of a Judas Priest album. It’s somewhere along the lines of Defenders of the Faith, only more melodic and with a West Coast polish. Sort of like what Dokken might sound like covering Priest. Twin lead guitars and high-octave vocals are matched with catchy melodies and a glossier production. The lyrics stay close to the heavy metal staples of metal, fighting, fighting for metal and the like, but to me that only enhances the band’s appeal. Standout tracks include “License to Kill,” “Vigilante” and “Circle of Fire” (that one sounds like it could have come from Sad Wings of Destiny), but the whole album is pretty impressive.
If you’re a fan of the classic ‘80s heavy metal sound, particularly the American power/speed metal bands like Omen, Armored Saint, Warlord, Savage Grace and Leatherwolf, both Malice albums are must-have releases.
Reissue Notes: Since Malice’s debut album In the Beginning was reissued in 2016, fans have been anticipating the Rock Candy label finally setting their sights on License to Kill. We got our wish this year. Rock Candy’s reissue of License to Kill features a brand new digital remastering that’s just stunning. I suppose it’s cliché to say it lets you hear the album in a whole new light, but that’s pretty much how it feels. The audiophiles can debate loudness wars and whatever; I just know this thing sounds amazing, and worlds better than the previous Wounded Bird version. There are no bonus tracks, which is a shame considering some of the extras the old bootleg versions had attached to them, but that can be overlooked. As usual, the booklet is loaded with band history and vintage photos. All in all, it’s a mandatory upgrade.
Summary: Essential album, essential reissue