ReviewsEvildead – Toxic Grace (Steamhammer/SPV)

Evildead – Toxic Grace (Steamhammer/SPV)

Unlike the mid-1990s when the thrash scene seemed to be overtaken by death, black, or alternative forms of heavy music, the current marketplace offers a plethora of options for the consumers. Beneficial to acts who’ve reached legacy status even on a fringe basis – such as Los Angeles’ Evildead, who started in 1987 and released an EP and two albums from 1989-1991 that received modest praise through the underground press and metal outlets. Back again since 2016, Toxic Grace is the fourth studio album, the follow-up to United States of Anarchy released in the fall of 2020. This labor of love contains four-fifths of the main lineup, with bassist Karlos Medina being a part of the group since 1990, losing no momentum through these nine original tracks (plus a bonus track “The Death & Resurrection Show” recorded as a tribute to Killing Joke guitarist Kevin Walker who passed away last year).

The band create a healthy dose of blistering thrash at mid-tempo to slightly faster paces – as guitarists Juan Garcia and Albert Gonzales melt the aural landscape through their slightly sophisticated riff employment plus refined, professional techniques. Syncopated vocal melodies mirror specific musical passages in this crunchy parade that along with consistent double kick action makes opener “F.A.F.O.” the ideal headbanger to rile up any crowd into a circular frenzy. In controlled measures, many of the rhythms contain these thoughtful swinging march aspects – while other times the higher energy parts go into more spacious, almost Voivod-like movements (check out the wild shifts within “Stupid on Parade” that include some thunderous blast measures from drummer Rob Alaniz). Cleaner sections intertwine with this evil tribal-like odyssey that takes “Bathe in Fire” into some death metal terrain, the lead work exemplary as the fingers fly in arpeggio-laced intensity, where vocalist Phil Flores gets a chance to use a convincing, cleaner demeanor before unleashing a killer, sustained scream for the final chorus. Favorites change by the day – for now the Forbidden-esque “Fear Porn” rips the most, but Exodus-like “Raising Fresh Hell” should release the rebellious nature in all who desire to stagedive or slam into the pit.

While the production values possess a touch inconsistency from the first few songs through the middle of the record, it should not deter the outcome as far as quality songwriting for Evildead. Add in political-socially conscious lyrical content that has always been prevalent for the group and you’ll hear in Toxic Grace another example that old school thrash can still carve out a familiar niche to the right audience.

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7.5 / 10