Monday, June 3, 2013

Evile - Skull


Isn't it incredible how quickly Evile went from one of the pet "they're gonna be huge someday" rethrash acts from the early days of the surge to "oh man they still exist?"?  Yeah it's true, Evile seems to reap commercial success and consistently chart with each new album (a huge rarity for metal bands) and yet I still don't know a single person who still listens to them.  They entered the game with the groundbreaking new idea of "play like Metallica, sing like Slayer" at a time when everybody was doing exactly that, but they seemed to break from the mold by being a little more Master of Puppets and less Kill 'em All.  Basically they're the band that Trivium wished they could be, and that was about the extent of it.  I sang the praises of Enter the Grave when it was new, but that probably had more to do with the fact that I really bought into the whole rethrash scene when in first emerged (when it was still called neo thrash), and less to do with how much staying power it actually had (I even considered Merciless Death, one of the absolute worst bands of the style, among the best back then); because looking back, it doesn't have a whole lot going for it apart from "Thrasher", "First Blood", and "Armoured Assault".  I skipped the next two albums due to a lack of interest, but now here I sit with the band's fourth album, the not-so-excitingly-titled Skull.

Eh, this is pretty much the same problem the band had way back in the beginning, one or two good songs scattered about a ton of utterly forgettable ones.  This is frustrating because the skill is certainly there, every once in a while the band can just unexpectedly crap out a very intense or memorable riff (like "Underworld" or "Outsider"), but most of the time seem totally content to just pump out the same dozen Metallica throwaways that wouldn't stick with the listener if they were covered in velcro.  Tracks like "Head of the Demon" and "The Naked Sun" just fucking plod on and on and on and never seem to end.  Most of the tracks here seem to be much thrashier takes on the speed rock numbers of The Black Album like "Through the Never" and "Of Wolf and Man", never once doubting their roots in pure thrash but also never doing anything remotely engaging.  And when they're not romping through midpaced snoozers, the tempo is usually very high and the performances very energetic.  This is when the band is at their best, when they're just roaring through high octane rippers, unleashing all that piss and vinegar they're clearly still so full of.  But no, instead we get bad "Sanitarium" knockoffs like "Tomb", because clearly that is what people want more of.  I mean really, if you can show me somebody who believes "Battery" would be better if the intro took four minutes and doubled as a two minute outro, with the time in between being midpaced, I'll show you somebody you clearly just made up to try to prove me wrong.  Dick.

I was being a little facetious earlier when I said Evile was just doing the same thing as everybody else.  Honestly, I'd reckon about 90% of the rethrash bands out there exclusively rip off Exodus, Slayer, or Kreator.  The world actually has relatively few Metallica knockoffs (really, it's like Evile, early Testament and... I dunno, Xentrix?), so Evile does stand out a bit from the crowd for that reason alone.  It's unfortunate because the band is undoubtedly at their best when they're doing exactly what I commend them for not doing.  When they play super fast and angry and violent and end up sounding like Slayer or Coma of Souls era Kreator, that's when they churn out the most enjoyable and memorable music.  "Underworld" and "Outsider" are without a doubt the best tracks on display.  It's not even close.  That's when Matt and Ol Drake's razor sharp riffing skills get the opportunity to shine.  Matt's Araya impression has apparently morphed over time to more closely resemble the newer sound of Chuck Billy, which I again don't have a problem with.  Say what you will about the quality of Testament's music, Billy has always had a great voice if nothing else.

I get what Evile was trying to do here, I actually respect them a ton for trying to mix it up and not be yet another faceless, one dimensional thrash rehash.  This isn't like Guillotine or Amoricide or Hatchery or any other of the virtually nameless retreads out there, I can still hear this and say "Yup, this is certainly an Evile album!"  They spread the tempo across the board, and it's a commendable effort, but the problem is that they fall short whenever it dips below "furiously fast".  There are only a handful of songs where they do this, and a grand total of two where it keeps up from start to finish.  This is gonna have to be a shorter review for me because at the end of the day, Skull is a pretty shallow album and I've already touched on every worthwhile point.  For all the brainless, no-creativity rethrash bands out there, you could do a whole lot worse than Evile, but I still wouldn't recommend them to anybody outside of Metallica diehards or people who really, really loved The Crusade for some reason.

RATING - 40%


  1. "Yeah it's true, Evile seems to reap commercial success and consistently chart with each new album (a huge rarity for metal bands) and yet I still don't know a single person who still listens to them." is this possible? :P

  2. Nice review, haven't listened to the album yet but now I know what I'm in for when/if I do get it!

    However I'd like to offer an alternative viewpoint on Evile in general that I noticed only a minority of people share (myself included):

    First thing I'd like to say is that rethrash in general is, as you would agree, a tired and derivative trend that very rarely brings something worthwhile to the table. When 'Enter the Grave' came out I was unimpressed after the initial "Whoa these guys are raw!" reaction from the first few listens, but I was still mildly interested enough to keep up with their releases up until their second album, 'Infected Nations'. I'm gonna tell you straight, that album is a musical masterpiece, however it's as far removed from the generic thrash style of the first album (and third album too, somewhat) as you can get.

    The genius of IN lies in its depth, the style going full-on into a bleak, almost atonal progressive thrash with a surprisingly rich harmonic language for a metal band. The problem is that to really appreciate IN you need a rare combination of prerequisites: you gotta like thrash but you also have to appreciate some of the slower 'The Thing that Should Not Be'-type atmospheric songs (so far, if for example 'Victims of Deception' is your favourite thrash album you're on the right track), you have to like a bit of classical music because the harmony gets more complex than power chords and riffs that most people are used to in metal, and probably most importantly you gotta keep listening to it even if it doesn't click in the first few listens. There are a few reviews on MA that would tell you similar things.

    As you can tell by now, that's a very small subset of people! IN caused something similar to '...And Justice For All' syndrome, a.k.a. songs were hard to play, hard to write and fans just weren't really into them live. So what happened is what you'd expect, they went two steps back when they release the third album, 'Five Serpents Teeth'. FST is kind of a mix between 'Enter The Grave', (glimpses of) IN and a better version of 'The Crusade' (which sounds very similar to your description of 'Skull', so I'm kind of expecting it to sound the same).

    FST was a big disappointment to me, even though it had a couple of cool songs. Evile are a much better prog band than they are a rethrash band so it felt like they're wasting their talent. I expect 'Skull' to be the same story...

    1. I regret not seeing this comment earlier, as it's pretty easily the best one I've ever gotten on this blog. Being completely honest with you, I've listened through Infected Nations a whole one time, and the only thing I remember about it is that I liked the title track, the rest of it is a nondescript blur in my memory. I'll give it another listen though, because you perspective is pretty well reasoned and interesting. Usually I can't stand OH YOU HAVE TO JUST KEEP ON LISTENING TO IT UNTIL YOU CONVINCE YOURSELF YOU LIKE IT defenses, but you offer a new perspective I hadn't yet heard with it, and it interests me.

      I really wish I got more comments as insightful and well reasoned as this one, haha. Come on Anonymous, step up your game!

  3. That is a very good review. I get your perspective totally, I just couldn't word it nearly as well.