Evile - Enter the grave 4/5
1. Enter the grave
3. First blood
4. Man against machine
5. Burned alive
6. Killer from the deep
7. We who are about to die
9. Bathe in blood
10. Armoured assault
In my review of Onslaught's comeback CD, I lamented the almost absolute lack of proper thrash being released these days. A few exceptions aside, the older bands have either split up or started mucking about with modern influences, and the young pretenders of the last 15 or so years have been either the groove metal spawn of Pantera and Machine Head's take on a dying genre in the 90s, or simply modern metalcore borrowing an old Bay Area riff here and there.
But despite this, there has always been a surviving underground passion for thrash in its purest, untampered form, with a groundswell of young bands currently tearing up the U.K.'s unsigned scene. Considered by many as the most promising of the bunch are Evile, who recently cashed in on some lucrative support slots by being snapped up by legendary extreme metal label Earache.
The Huddersfield 4-piece take their biggest influences from the heavier end of Bay Area thrash, never taking many cues from anything further forward than 1986. Their formative days as a Metallica tribute band have obviously left something of an imprint of that band on Evile's sound, but a middle ground between Exodus and Slayer is probably the most appropriate comparison to the songs on 'Enter the grave'.
Frontman Matt Drake's barking vocals are an obvious Tom Araya imitation, but performed so well that the replication never feels forced or awkward. His lyrics are also delightfully old-school, with themes of war, death, and erm, a really big shark, a breath of fresh air compared with the cartoonish political subjects Dave Mustaine and Gary Holt have been turning out of late. Better still, there is not a hint of Pantera-worship, macho man lyrical posturing to be found on the CD.
The 10 songs on 'Enter the grave' are uniformly tight and aggressive, with a multitude of jagged riffs ensuring that proceedings very rarely drag. The guitar solos from lead player Ol Drake are massively impressive, sounding often like the speedy fret runs of Kirk Hammett but also taking in the more melodic and technical style of Exodus as well.
Set off against the rampaging pace that most of the CDs runs at, the 7th and 9th songs, "We who are about to die" and "Bathe in blood" are more patient, menacing numbers. Perfect midtempo thrash (how often do you see that written down?), they are driven by bludgeoning, hypnotic riffs rather than sliding into groove-reliant mediocrity.
The former is a near 8-minute thrash epic, while the latter is an ominous, marching effort with a riff that must lock live audiences into that rhythmic, swaying type of headbanging the way only this sort of music can. Both songs of course feature classic New York thrash-style breaks in the middle that are executed flawlessly and make sure the songs do not get mired in repetition.
It is very hard to find criticism for Evile on their debut CD. Some listeners may be turned off by the blatant lack of originality in their songs, but when looking past this and listening to the music on its own terms, there would be hardly a thrash fan alive without room for 'Enter the grave' in their collection. A classic British thrash CD hasn't been recorded in some time, and it would be hyperbole to say that is what has happened here, but on this sort of form Evile may be the band to do it sooner rather than later. A better thrash CD in all likelihood won't be released in 2007.
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