Great Metal Albums of 1987: Malice- License to Kill

Thanks to Kerrang and other sources, I had heard of an American heavy metal band called Malice but I must confess, if it hadn’t been for my sister including two songs from their album, “License to Kill,” on a compilation tape she sent me, I probably would have never gotten around to listening to them. This is a good thing because while the album didn’t make want to stop listening to the metal heavyweights of the time, I still thought it was an album worth the listen.

I’ll start with the two tracks Dawn sent me, the title cut and “Chain Gang Woman.” Needless to say, but I am anyway, these two tracks did make me want to check out the rest of the album. True, the title track sounds like your typical metal song of the time, especially with the lyrics although in 1987, I do remember singing the line, “Call me a rock and roll outlaw, I got a license, a license to kill.” Great stuff! On the other hand, “Chain Gang Woman” is hands down the superior of the two tracks. I love that intro which moves onto to a very heavy but fast beat. A killer guitar solo makes it even better as it sound like guitarists Mick Zane and Jay Reynolds do a trade off. After the solo, there is even a cool rhythm guitar riff in the vein of “Children of the Sea.”

On the subject of great intros leading to some power beats and cool riffs, that is done before you even get to “Chain Gang Woman” with the track, “Against the Empire.” The only difference is that after the guitar solo, you get a driving hard rhythm guitar piece and that does drive the song to the end. However, in between the two songs mentioned above, there is “Vigilante” which could be thought of as filler. It’s not a bad song but it doesn’t do much for me. I think the song would have been more effective if they had sped it up a little. However, the guitar solo does save it.

Not to worry because after “Chain Gang Woman” comes my vote for hidden gem, “Christine.” The track has the formula which works for Malice but all of those parts put together are mind blowing, at least they blow my mind. I don’t know what you call it when the guitarist slides the pick up the neck of the guitar but that is what starts the song and that is followed by a faster paced beat leading to a cool bass solo from Mark Behn and then a yet another great guitar solo. But what puts it above the rest is that lead singer, James Neal, delivers his best vocal performance. “Breathin’ Down Your Neck” comes close to being as great as “Christine.”

That leads me to my next point, I won’t call James a bad singer, he’s better than a lot of others so called singers out there but his vocals aren’t mind blowing, He is definitely a few levels below the Gillans, Dios, Sniders, Coverdales, Halfords or Dickinsons and anyone else who should be included here, okay, Niharas and Meines of the world. Maybe if they had a singer more of the caliber of those mentioned, Malice would have gone a lot farther because the rest of the band are totally awesome.

Track Listing:

  1. Sinister Double
  2. License to Kill
  3. Against the Empire
  4. Vigilante
  5. Chain Gang Woman
  6. Christine
  7. Murder
  8. Breathin’ Down Your Neck
  9. Circle of Fire

James Neal- lead vocals

Jay Reynolds- guitar

Mick Zane- guitar (He passed away in 2016)

Mark Behn- bass, backing vocals

Clifford Carothers- drums (I should have sung his praises more)

After listening to “License to Kill” after so many years, I have to say thank you to my sister Dawn for providing me with those two tracks from the album. Otherwise, I would have missed what turned out to be a really good album.

Next post: London’s Aladdin’s Cave of Heavy Metal

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4 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1987: Malice- License to Kill”

  1. I get Dickinson vibes from those vocals, especially Chain Gang Woman.

    Liked by 1 person

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