Shorter, sharper, and full of venom
After an impressive debut (2007’s Enter the Grave) I had a lot of expectations for Huddersfield (U.K.) based thrash outfit Evile’s second full-length effort, Infected Nations (2009). But despite the album being good, I couldn’t help but feel a little letdown by what the band had to offer. Sure, their sophomore effort still maintained the band’s status as one of the best within the retro-thrash scene, but with the majority of the songs delivered more or less with a mid-paced tempo, overly long in length and delivered with a monotone on the vocal front, Evile fell a little short of delivering a true classic.
It’s been a couple of years since then, and Evile (who now comprise vocalist/rhythm guitarist Matt Drake, lead guitarist Ol Drake, new bassist Joel Graham (ex-Rise to Addiction, who replaced Mike Alexander after his untimely death in October 2009) and drummer Ben Carter) has unveiled their third full-length effort, Five Serpent’s Teeth, amid a wave of hype.
Once again reuniting with producer Russ Russell (who also recorded, mixed, and mastered the album, and who previously worked on Infected Nations), and with a new line-up, Evile have returned with a vengeance on their new album, with the title track Five Serpent’s Teeth spearheading the band’s comeback. After a brief harmonised guitar tandem intro (which more than bears a striking resemblance to Metallica’s guitar sound on 1986’s classic Master of Puppets), Evile settle into a tight knit gallop of crushing riffs and speed that typify the sound that was presented on the band’s debut. The sound is crisp and sharp without sounding too dry, while Drake’s vocals sound far more expressive and emotive than his efforts on their last album.
Despite its speedy introduction, In Dreams of Terror is a groovier sounding track that adds a bit more melody into the early half of the album in amongst its thrashing grooves, while the single Cult (which features backing vocals from American actor/comedian/musician Brian Posehn) proves to be one of the album’s more straight-forward thrash efforts (bringing to mind Metallica’s Leper Messiah), and one of the album’s real stand out cuts with its stunning lead work and Drake’s powerful vocals.
The sheer speed and energy of Eternal Empire (the first single lifted from the album), the technicality of Origin of Oblivion and Long Live New Flesh more than bolster the second half of the album with their mix of aggression and diverse array of classic sounding riffs, while calculated mid-paced tempo tracks such as Xaraya, Centurion and Descent Into Madness really gives the album some diversity – something that was a little lacking on the band’s former full-length effort.
The real surprise on the album is In Memoriam, which features a guest solo from Matt Drake (the Drake brothers’ father, and who’s otherwise a member of progressive/symphonic rock outfit Pilgrym) is essentially a slower ballad-like number written in honour of former bassist Alexander. While the song could have easily fallen into cliché territory, Evile manage to avoid the many pitfalls associated with ballads, and instead add some interesting twists to an otherwise standard song writing formula (both musically and lyrically). Not surprisingly, it’s another one of the album’s stronger moments as well.
Evile have really managed to redeem themselves with the release of Five Serpent’s Teeth. The band hasn’t entirely shaken off the early era Metallica sound on their new album, but they have at least sharpened their song writing skills, amended the errors made on their last album and delivered an album that is more akin to the direction the band were heading in after the release of their debut effort. Five Serpent’s Teeth is a damn fine thrash album, and one that should appeal to those who relish the classic old school thrash sound.