Evile – Skull (Earache/Century Media Records)

Tuesday, 18th June 2013
Rating: 8/10

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.

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