Malkovich return with intelligent new album

This isn't a Juliette Lewis style foray into rock by another Hollywood starlet; although it is quite amusing to imagine that it is the folically-challenged actor screaming his way through Malkovitch's new album. 'A Criminal Record' is the Dutch noise merchants' follow up to their 2002 debut 'The Foundation Rocks', and is their first since changing home from Coalition to Reflections Records. The band; featuring ex-members of Attonement, Face Tomorrow and Remorse, originally set out with the intent of simply being 'as intense as possible'. Their storming debut certainly fulfilled that criterion, but they've now decided to focus on the more intelligent side of song writing. In a slight contradiction to this supposed intellect, the band say that "we created a classical masterpiece dedicated to vultures, shaved pussies and total doom!"; a statement that is about as politically correct as a Kilroy Silk manifesto. Still, at least it shows they aren't taking themselves too seriously.

'A Criminal Record' is a definite step forward; taking the throat-shredding screams and caustic guitars of the debut and adding an extra layer of song writing intricacies to create a more accomplished and varied album. '017' displays this new-found intelligence through almost Hella-like guitarwork, with angular lines rapidly shifting in hypnotic pulses just imagine a less noodly Fall Of Troy, with a better vocalist. It's amazing that they maintain a level of tuneful musicality through such complexities; it never sounds cold or abstract, as is so often the failing of technically-inclined bands. The clean melodic intro and strained vocals of '029' remind me of Saetia, although they inject their own sense of individuality through some hot rod rock'n'roll riffage. Also new to this album is the more classic punk flavour that has been subtly woven into the hardcore mesh, lending a new found accessibility to some songs at one point it's even possible to hear a little Face To Face, albeit only briefly. '031' is a throwback to their last album, an unrelenting hail of distorted discordance that shows they can still decimate when they want to.

'031' aside, the album as a whole is slightly less abrasive than 'The Foundation Rocks', but it's multi-faceted dynamics make it's predecessor seem positively one-dimensional in comparison. Fans of JR Ewing and Refused, should definitely apply here.