Founded firmly in the Judas Priest camp, Malice was a highly impressive Los Angeles based Metal band noted for strenuous live work. Not only did Malice sound like Judas Priest by warrant of their heavy European guitar riffing but vocalist James Neal, a practising Buddhist, sounded uncannily like Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford and guitarist Jay Reynolds was a deadringer for Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing. Malice's insistence on wearing studded black leather only compounded the comparisons.
Formed by Portland emigrees, bassist Mark Behn had previously played in Fire Eye and had also played in another local outfit, Kharma, who also included Pete Holmes, better known in later years for his role in Black n' Blue. Guitarist Mick Zane had started out with the 1978 act Rude Awakening, fronted by Matt McCourt later of Wild Dogs infamy. Zane and McCourt, alongside Wild Dogs guitarist Jeff Horton and Black n' Blue man Pete Holmes, would share a later band, DMZ, in 1981. Jay Reynolds was part of the same club scene, coincidentally appearing in the Matt McCourt fronted acts 1979's Punk band the Violaters and The Ravers. It was Jay Reynolds that provided the catalyst for Malice. Having returned to Portland from Hawaii, where the guitarist had worked with various acts, he soon forged THE RAVERS. When this band folded Reynolds set to work assembling Malice, the first rehearsals featuring James Neal, Matt McCourt, Deen Castronovo, of Wild Dogs, on drums and then sixteen year old Kip Doran of Evil Genius and The Enemy on guitar.
Making their initial vinyl appearance on the first Metal Blade Records 'Metal Massacre' compilation album, the only band to contribute two tracks, with 'Captive Of Light' and 'Kick You Down', Malice were in fact at that stage not yet a band, the five members only deciding on a permanent union following the sessions. Introducing bassist Mark Behn and drummer Peter Laufmann, this formation the group relocated to Los Angeles. The buzz on Malice now rollercoasted with the respected Dutch magazine 'Aardschok' giving the band a cover story a mere two months after their formation. The band's first gig came in November 1982 appearing at Los Angeles Troubadour Club headlining a bill with Metallica and Pandemonium as opening acts. A line-up change saw the introduction of with new drummer Cliff Carruthers, previously with Snow and Assassin. The quintet's ensuing Michael Wagener produced demo proved an immense tour de force and Malice soon found themselves at the centre of a record company bidding war. Atlantic Records snapped up the band in July 1984 and the demo comprised half of Malice's first album, 1985's 'In The Beginning', the remaining tracks being produced by Ashley Howe.
Second album 'License To Kill', was produced by Max Norman. The record, surfacing in 1986, was another strong contender. Guests in the studio included Megadeth men Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson and Black n' Blue's Tommy Thayer and Jaime St. James. Malice toured with W.A.S.P. on the west coast and despite making headway with a strong record, a European tour supporting thrashers Slayer proved to be a disastrous mismatch with the headliner's fans hostility showing itself openly with spitting and verbal abuse.
Malice folded in late 1987. Reynolds was very briefly to flirt with Megadeth although the friend he entrusted this confidential information to and tutored Reynolds on Megadeth riffs, Jeff Young, put his own name forward and landed the coveted position.
A third Malice release, 'Crazy In The Night' was issued in 1988, although none of the tracks featured Neal, his place having been taken in the studio by two singers, nineteen year old Mark Weitz, who had recorded with L.A. Rocks, and Paul Sabu. The latter a strange union bearing in mind Sabu's AOR history. Neal did, however, appear in a concert sequence in the movie 'Vice Versa'. Subsequently, Weitz briefly teamed up with Americade then Impelliterri.
Zane, Behn and Carruthers attempted to sustain Malice but, with no product forthcoming they split the band. In 1995 Zane and Behn returned to the fray with the Los Angeles based Monster, releasing the 'Through The Eyes Of The World' album on Long Island Records. Monster featured Behn's old Kharma bandmate Pete Holmes and previously unknown vocalist Mark Isham. Ex-Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds would resurface in early 2004 as a member of the re-vamped Metal Church.
In November 2006 a press statement announced that Malice had been resurrected guitar players Mick Zane and Jay Reynolds, bassist Mark Behn together with Pete Holmes, of Black n' Blue, on drums and "newfound vocal sensation" Brian Allen, of Last Empire, fronting the band.
Jay Reynolds - guitars
Mick Zane - guitars
Mark Behn - bass
Robert Cardenas - bass
James Rivera - vocals
Pete Holmes - drums
In the Beginning... (1985)
License to Kill (1986)
New Breed of Godz (2012)