It was not until 2011’s “Five Serpents’ Teeth” that Evile really found their sound. You can certainly hear elements of their current incarnation on the first two albums, but “Enter The Grave” was an all-out Slayer-inspired speed assault. “Infected Nations” went the opposite direction with a progressive, drawn-out Metallica influenced. Luckily, the band managed to strike a great balance between the two sounds on the prior record, and that sound has largely been continued on their fourth album, “Skull”.
Opening track “Underworld” is a fast-paced rager that carries all of the Evile trademarks: mosh-inducing riffs, a fantastic solo from Ol Drake, and Matt Drake’s best James Hetfield impression. Once again, the band makes heavy use of gang vocals. For the most part, this describes the entire record. The songs are nowhere near as progressive as they have been in the past, though some of the riffs still have an element of technicality to them. There are some less common time signatures throughout “Skull”, particularly on the title track. In general, the songwriting is weaker than on the previous record. I can remember some riffs and choruses here and there on this record, but I’ve spun through it multiple times, and still can’t pinpoint something from every track.
Despite the above criticism, it needs to be emphasized how killer the riffs are. Sure, they aren’t memorable the same way that “The Four Horsemen” may have been, but the thrash riff well has been wrung dry for so long that any riff causing this much headbanging is worth hearing. “The Naked Sun” is an all-out speed fest at points, reliving the glory of classic Evile tracks like “Thrasher”. On the other end of the spectrum is the semi-ballad “Tomb”. This is something the band experimented with (successfully, I might add) on the prior album, and while including a ballad is clearly a Metallica homage, the band has the chops to execute it. Of particular note is how good Matt Drake’s vocals are. They are not the most original thing, but he’s become a singer, as opposed to someone who just relies on a thrash bark (though he has a great throaty yell too).
One track I have to give special mention to is "Words of the Dead". This track is the ultimate rhythmic exercise, particularly in the verses. Much like on "Harvester of Sorrow" and "The Shortest Straw", the guitar patterns exhibit some fantastically used start-stop riffing. Unlike those two songs, however, "Words of the Dead" evolves into a furiously fast burst of energy. This is a definite highlight.
It’s hard not to like Evile, mainly because nobody else can sound like Metallica as well as they do. They have their own unique qualities as well, and this helps them stand out among the crowd of re-thrash bands. If you liked the direction the band took on the prior record, “Skull” is certain to be satisfying.
Be sure to check out and like Evile on Facebook!
"Words of the Dead"
4.0/5 or 80%.
Written by Scott