Monday, August 11, 2014

Evil United - Honored By Fire

Evil United
Honored By Fire
MVD Audio

San Antonio/Austin (Texas, U.S.) based outfit Evil United is an outfit that’s been kicking around for some years. Primarily formed out of the ashes of industrialised metal outfit Pitbull Daycare, the group (Comprising of ex-Pitbull Daycare/Uriel lead guitarist T.C. ‘Bird’ Connally, rhythm guitarist John ‘JV4’ Valenzuela, Riot/ex-Pitbull Daycare/The Devil’s Jukebox bassist Don Van Stavern and ex-Pitbull Daycare/Wednesday 13 drummer Jason ‘Shakes’ West) officially became a band as such when they secured the talent of vocalist Jason McMaster (Who is somewhat of an underground legend within the metal scene with his involvement in bands such as Ignitor, Dangerous Toys, Watchtower and Broken Teeth).
With a full line-up in place, the band set to work on their songs, and released their self-titled debut effort in 2011. Although the album passed under the radar of most, those who managed to hear the album considered it a solid enough release.
It’s been three years since then, and the five piece outfit are back once again with their long awaited second album ‘Honored by Fire’. And much like their debut, it’s a solid and likeable album – if a little flawed in places.
Evil United open their album with ‘Dead Can See’, which is a perfect example of what kind of heavy thrash metal the band offer listeners for the most part. Beginning with a classic thrash-like intro, ‘Dead Can See’ soon settles into a fast paced groove that reveals a touch of modern groove metal delivered in amongst the thrash overtones. I can only assume the band was aiming for a raw sound, as McMaster’s vocals are savagely delivered and rough in some places. But while it all sounds a little unrefined, the song does retain a sense of urgency and energy throughout, which is one of the song’s strong points. Unfortunately, as good as the song is (Not to mention some great shredding guitar work from Connally), the song does overstay it’s welcome a bit towards the end. Had it had a minute edited off the end, the song would have been a killer opener. But as it stands, it’s one of the album’s O.K. numbers, and nothing more.
The follow-up track ‘Caesar’ is introduced via a long build-up, but once it kicks in, it really kicks in! Fast paced, some memorable guitar tones on the guitar front and a top performance from McMaster (Both vocally and melody wise), ‘Caesar’ is definitely one of the album’s true highlights.
Maintaining the consistency of the former track is ‘Ripping Flesh’, which lives up to its title in venomous form and earns its place as another of the album’s real memorable efforts, while ‘Tombspawn’ (Which is preceded by the short acoustic/electric guitar piece instrumental ‘Grave’, and features a guest contribution from drumming legend Gene Hoglan on the lyrical front) and ‘Viking Funeral’ (Which was release as a single in 2013) keeps the momentum moving ever forward.
As mentioned earlier, Evil United’s latest release isn’t without its flawed moments.
Although interesting and well executed, the short instrumental pieces ‘Ab Initio’ and ‘The Cottage’ seems to be placed on the album at random (If anything, ‘Ab Initio’ would have been a great album introduction), and only succeed at breaking up the consistency of the album as a whole with their inclusion. And as for the two hidden efforts at the tail end of the album (Both of which are short untitled instrumentals), their inclusion seems a little tacked on and out of place.
Then there are the songs that don’t quite stand out. ‘Mind Over Pain’ is a good song, but lacks a truly identifiable riff, while the bass heavy ‘Ghost Crushed’ (Again, lyrically co-written with Hoglan) and the speedier album closer ‘Bloody Water’ just isn’t all that memorable.
In some ways, Evil United has what some bands don’t; and that’s an energetic vibe and raw quality captured in the studio. But it’s what’s missing that lets the band down, and that’s evident in the song writing.
Overall, ‘Honored By Fire’ has its moments. It’s a solid album, but far from a truly modern thrash classic by a long short.

For more information on Evil United, check out - http://www.evilunited.net/

© Justin Donnelly