Evile - Infected nations 2.5/5
1. Infected nation
2. Now demolition
5. Plague to end all plagues
6. Devoid of thought
7. Time no more
9. Hundred wrathful deities
I think it's safe to a say a few people – myself included – got a little overexcited when Evile released their debut ‘Enter the grave’ back in 2007. It’s hard to imagine now with the amount of thrash bands running around that as little as 2 years ago a CD released in that style on a label the size of Earache was such a rarity, and I can see now that I got a little swept up in the excitement. Not that ‘Enter the grave’ was in any way a bad debut (I’m definitely not about to jump on the anti-thrash revival bandwagon), but with hindsight it’s easy to see, with the amount of better quality thrash CDs released since, that it wasn’t anything too earthshaking.
With ‘Infected nations’, Evile seem to be out to prove a point, and can be seen to be trying to find a sound of their own and shake off the ‘retro’ tag that has followed them around since their breakthrough. While attempts from a band to cut a path of their own and move away from the tried and tested are always to be applauded, the eternal question of whether its better to excel at something unoriginal or be merely competent at something different unfortunately seems particularly pertinent to this CD.
The songs on their 2nd full-length are, as a rule, a great deal more complex than those on the debut (one song shorter, but 6 minutes longer overall), and the pace is on the whole lowered to a more midtempo approach. While there are a great deal more riffs on ‘Infected nations’ than its predecessor, and fewer that immediately call to mind 1986 in San Francisco, there are hardly any that are close to being as memorable as those on, say, the “Enter the grave” title track or the excellent “Killer from the deep”.
The most obvious difference, and perhaps the biggest failing of the entire CD, is Matt Drake’s decision to change his vocal style quite considerably. He has received criticism in some quarters for sounding like a Tom Araya imitator, and while it was plainly obvious who he was emulating on ‘Enter the grave’, there was no denying how good he was at it, and his voice was one of the band’s biggest draws. By contrast, the atonal yell – somewhere between latter-day Cavalera and Burton C. Bell – he has switched to for ‘Infected nations’ is a constant source of irritation and kills more than one song stone dead when the chorus arrives. One of the worst offenders in this sense is “Now demolition”, which is a bland and uninspired song on the whole anyway, but the endless, dragging chorus (“Dem-o-li-tion/Dem-o-li-tion/Now! Dem-o-li-tion/Dem-o-li-tion... Now!”) is almost painful to behold.
Not that I want to make this review seem overly negative; few of the songs suffer any serious faults beyond the vocal display, but the youthful exuberance that previously made up for the lack of originality seems to have been lost somewhere in the transition between the styles Evile have travelled between.
Ol Drake’s guitar solos remains a real source of inspiration – varied, technical and often visceral, the songs tend to bristle with sudden intensity whenever he is left off the leash. On the whole though, it seems that in their quest to find their own place in the world, they have lost site of the shore to a degree, and seem to be indulging in complexity for its own sake at the expense of some crucial excitement.
Finally, I don’t want to make it look like I’m kicking a band when they’re down, and hope they can recover from the tragic death of bassist Mike Alexander to return with a stronger 3rd CD. Striking a balance between the Devil-may-care charms of ‘Enter the grave’ and the originality of ‘Infected nations’ would no doubt produce a more satisfying product, but that will be the least of their concerns in these tough times.
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