Along with Bitch, Cirith Ungol and the now legendary Metallica, Malice were one of the standout bands featured on 1982's genre defining Metal Massacre, Vol. 1 compilation. In fact, with not one but two contributions ("Captive of Light" and "Kick you Down") which sounded significantly more mature than Metallica's own barely formed original version of "Hit the Lights," Malice seemed headed for fame and fortune, yet were derailed along the way.
Malice's origins lie in Hawaii, of all places, where guitarist Jay Reynolds was living in self-imposed exile during the late-'70s disco explosion, jamming with local bands and fostering an ever growing interest in Judas Priest and up-and-coming New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. So much so, that in 1980 he returned to his hometown of Portland, Oregon to record with local band the Ravers, whose vocalist, James Neal, would soon accompany him to Los Angeles with the intent of forming Malice. Once there, they began working on their first demos alongside second guitarist Mick Zane, bassist Mark Behn, and drummer Pete Laufman, eventually sharing the fruits of their efforts with an ambitious record store clerk named Brian Slagel, who simultaneously edited a fanzine called The New Heavy Metal Revue. Slagel liked what he heard, and asked the band if he could two of their songs on his 1982 compilation of unsigned heavy metal bands, Metal Massacre, also featuring, as noted earlier, the upstart Metallica, who, incidentally, supported Malice that Thanksgiving weekend at their Troubadour show. Seasoned musicians that they were, however, Malice made the strategic mistake of biding their time, waiting for a major-label contract to come their way, while their initially greener competitors were snapped up left and right by independent labels (Metallica to Megaforce, Slayer to Slagel's own Metal Blade, etc.).
By the time the band (by then featuring drummer Clifford Carothers) finally got their wish and inked a deal with powerhouse Atlantic records to release 1985's In the Beginning album, while those same previously "lesser" competitors had revolutionized classic metal into thrash, and left Malice's Priest-inspired material sounding positively dated. Most consumers therefore failed to take notice and, adding insult to injury, after touring with the likes of Alice Cooper, Queensrÿche and W.A.S.P. and recording their sophomore License to Kill album, in 1987, Malice found themselves opening up for old friends Slayer on their European tour behind the seminal Reign in Blood. Increasingly frustrated with the band's situation and mounting disagreements with vocalist James Neal, founding guitarist Jay Reynolds quit the band to join Megadeth as Chris Poland's touring replacement, but he quickly found himself at loggerheads with the irascible Dave Mustaine, and had rejoined Malice in time to get dropped by Atlantic, six months later. After dispensing with Neal's services, the remaining quartet hired ex-Americade singer Mark Weitz and managed to record a final EP, Crazy in the Night, for -- irony of ironies -- Metal Blade in 1989; but then faded at last into rock & roll oblivion. Among the frequent sightings of Malice's members over the years, perhaps most notable was Reynolds eventual resurfacing in Metal Church in 2004. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi
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