Evile – Skull (Earache/Century Media Records)Tuesday, 18th June 2013
Now past the pivotal third album stage and without the unfortunate specter of deceased bassist Mike Alexander hanging over them, British thrashers have come back with a beyond-thrash album in the form of Skull that is – gasp – mature. Bands that originated from the retro thrash boon of the mid-00’s have had a rather difficult time navigating subsequent backlash and consumer cold-shouldering (see: Warbringer, Merciless Death, Mantic Ritual, etc.), so the fact Evile is on the fourth album with a relatively strong, agile head of stream speaks volumes.
With the same production team as before (Russ Russell is as underrated of a knob-spinner as there is), Skull proves to be an extension of 2011’s Five Serpent’s Teeth. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Drake has demonstrated the most growth from the band’s generic beginnings – he’s a borderline British Hetfield, just without the enunciation, and it serves to bolster numbers such as the opening “Underworld” and “Head of the Demon.”
The title track appears to be a bonafide live call-to-arms, which should be easy for punters to engage in the one-word title, shouting “Skull!” Some derision might be founded in departure track “Tomb,” which is the album’s quasi-ballad, done in a sort of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” meets “One” fashion, so get out your Metallica-wannabe cries. Still, the diversity of this track should be a notch in the band’s belt, as well as the more standard “Outsider” and “New Truth, Old Lies.”
Evile has done what Trivium was unable to do: Sound like mid-80’s Metallica without the accompanying verbal diarrhea, solo overload, and contrived nature. Skull displays a young band that has actually evolved into something more than a run-of-the-mill thrash band, and since we’re all about progression and evolution in these parts, consider Evile effectively backed.