Of all the bands that make up the modern thrash metal scene (Which has been coined neo-thrash and re-thrash by some), Huddersfield (U.K.) based outfit Evile is hands down one of my favourites.
Over the course of their three full-length releases to date, Evile have brought about as much acclaim as they have criticism for their obvious love of all things Metallica. And yes, while the band’s style is a damn near rip off of all things classic Metallica related, there’s something about their sound and style that fills a niche that a lot of other thrash acts these days seem to overlook in their attempts to emulate other well known thrash acts of a bygone era.
Two years on from their last full-length release (2011’s ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’), the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Matt Drake, lead guitarist Ol Drake, bassist Joel Graham and drummer Ben Carter) are back with their latest effort ‘Skull’. And as expected, the new album is everything you would expect from an Evile release.
Working once again with producer/mixer Russ Russell (Who has been handling the production on Evile’s releases since 2009’s ‘Infected Nations’, and who has worked with Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir, Amorphis and Sikth in the past), it’s pretty clear that Evile aren’t too interested in evolving their sound as much as refining it. In other words, this isn’t the album that sees Evile break free of the Metallica mould. And depending on what you thought of Evile’s former releases, it’s either a good thing or a bad thing.
The opening track ‘Underworld’ is great example of what Evile are capable of in terms of a fast paced thrasher that shows no mercy. Ripped through in a blistering pace, ‘Underworld’ is full of attitude, aggression and speed, with Drake’s vocals coming across as a mix of Tom Araya (Slayer) and James Hetfield (Metallica), while the music fuses riffing influences from Kreator, Metallica and Testament. In short, ‘Underworld’ is a true stand out cut in the early half of the album.
The follow up title track ‘Skull’ showcases some of the band’s progressive tendencies, with the tempos constantly shifting between break neck speeding passages and slower paced melodic patches, while the occasional breakdown gives off an air of Slayer at times. Unfortunately, the chorus structures are a little weak in places, which tends to drag the track down a touch.
Both ‘The Naked Sun’ and ‘Outsider’ marks a return to faster territory, but with choruses that are big on melodies that are infectious and memorable (Which not surprisingly earmarks the songs as some of the album’s truly great efforts), while the mid-paced groove of ‘Head Of The Demon’ and ‘Words Of The Dead’ are nothing short of crushing, even if the songs are a little reminiscent of some well known Metallica classics (‘Leper Messiah on the former, and ‘The Shortest Straw’ on the latter).
Not unlike ‘In Memoriam’ on ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’, ‘Tomb’ is best described as the power ballad/progressive thrash sounding effort on this new album. And while the song structure and direction strongly echoes Metallica’s ‘(Welcome Home) Sanitarium’, Drake’s vocals and Ol Drake’s exceptional lead guitar work stand out enough to give the song its own identity.
Towards the tail end of the album, both ‘What You Become’ and ‘New Truths, Old Lies’ are powerful and groovier based efforts that feature strong melodies and riffs that stick in the mind long after the songs have finished (Particularly on the former), while the final track ‘A Sinister Call’ (Which is only available on the iTunes edition of the album) is a solid short blast of mid-paced that brings the album to a close in style.
Depending on what you think of Evile, ‘Skull’ is either a great modern/retro thrash album, or just more of the same old thing. I would have personally liked to have seen Evile push their sound a little more into uncharted territory, and rely less on a formula that has worked well for them over their three previous releases.
But having said that - overall I’m more or less pleased with what the band have offered up on their latest release.
For more information on Evile, check out - http://www.evile.co.uk/
© Justin Donnelly