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There is a sad reality about many lesser know thrash metal acts, which could be labeled as the two album rule. With rare exception (and usually the exception is only one album being released), these bands either crashed and burned after putting out 2 superior LP releases, or otherwise broke up after hitting musical pay dirt for the 2nd time. Evildead, formed in the aftermath of Juan Garcia's 2 album stint with Agent Steel, takes after the latter category, though their impact on the thrash metal scene was minimal when compared with the actual quality of their output. It's not an entirely unexpected eventuality when one's competition consists of similarly technical outfits like Forbidden and the lesser know Defiance, newly formed pinnacles of aggression in Demolition Hammer and Exhorder, not to mention the continual onslaught of the Bay Area via Exodus and Testament. In many respects, Evildead embodied most of the positive aspects of all these projects during their brief time in the spotlight, but things were definitely changing by 1991.
For all the similar imagery of greed and corporate abuse that adorns "The Underworld" when compared to the content of its predecessor, this is a fairly different album than "Annihilation Of Civilization". It starts off in a similar fashion with another sample from the "Evil Dead" films, though this time mixed in with a lot of guitar and synthesizer noise, and it does travel to almost the exact same places lyrically, but it comes off as much more conventional, at least insofar as the genre's direction was concerned in the early 90s. There's nothing on this album that comes close to rivaling the unfettered speed and fury of "The Awakening" or "Unauthorized Exploitation", nor are the technical and progressive quirks that occasionally popped up in the debut nearly as prevalent. This isn't to say that the album is a bland affair in over-repetition or an outright nod to "...And Justice For All", but it definitely listens closer to the upper mid-tempo character of the latter days of the style, having a bit more in common with "Impact Is Imminent" and "Victims Of Deception".
There is a greater concentration on punch and heaviness on here, not all that dissimilar to the super-Metallica crunch character of Demolition Hammer's debut. It's not quite as fast as said album, but when hearing the pounding chug of the riff work on "Welcome To Kuwait" and "The Hood", it's pretty easy to heard that the rhythm guitars have been given a good bit more stomp to them, probably in part due to input from vocalist Phil Flores' brother Dan coming in to take over for Albert Gonzales. The familiar harmonized leads and wild soloing are still present, but tempered and a bit more methodical, almost as if Juan Garcia is limiting himself to 2 or 3 wenches rather than trying to nail the whole harem. The name of the game here is definitely mid-tempo grooving mixed with fast but not quite frenetic thrashing, and the aggressive ode to douche bag music journalists "Critic/Cynic" and the more elaborate riff machine with extremely awkward politically preachy lyrics of an opener "Global Warming" exhibit a multifaceted yet soldier-like mode of precision that is engaging, but falls just shy of extravagance.
But for this album's initial consistency as it shifts gears between anti-war and environmental politics to odes of gangland violence with a precursor to Beavis and Butthead named Roscoe ("The Hood"), it actually tapers off a bit towards the end. They do manage to nail the "He's A Woman, She's A Man" cover, with Phil showcasing his ability to hit screech territory with about the same level of competence as Chuck Billy back during the mid 80s, but after that things aren't quite as memorable. "Process Elimination" listens like a thrash/speed hybrid that pays homage to early 80s Judas Priest while retaining the super-heavy guitar tone, but it doesn't quite hit as hard as the 7 songs before it and tends to come and go too quickly. "Labyrinth Of The Mind" finds itself stumbling into Pantera styled grooving and, while far from terrible, sticks out like a sore thumb whenever it drops the tempo, and likewise is a bit jarring when it picks things up. Things then proceed to close out on a somewhat convoluted note on "Reap What You Sow", seemingly taking some cues from the Metallica/Megadeth approach to semi-ballad based thrashing, but takes its time getting going and then sort of wanders around a series of impressive riffs before closing off.
It's a sad thing that when the bottom fell out of the thrash scene in 1993, Evildead was one of the many casualties of the stranglehold that the RIAA still had over the entire musical world. It's a bit of a consolation that they managed to sneak in 2 LPs and a solid live album before eventually losing label support, thus opting to change their name to Terror and reverting back to Sci-Fi/Conspiratorial lyrical subjects in line with Garcia's Agent Steel days while still trying to maintain this band's style. Apparently when the thrash revival really started to heat up in the latter half of the first decade of the 2000s, this band gave it another go but apparently couldn't quite capitalized on the renewed interest in both classic Bay Area thrash and the crossover sound that Evildead dabbled in. But despite their not being a comeback LP to mark the occasion, this album and the one that came before it are highly recommended to any present partakes of the genre, particularly those liking it technical and heavy.
Annihilation of Civilization was hardly a breakout suffusion over the thrash-starved masses of the late 80s, but it gleaned enough press and attention that the band had earned a rightful mention along the same West Coast surge that vaulted Exodus and Forbidden fairly high into the underground consciousness. For their sophomore, still through Steamhammer, Evildead would evoke a more practiced, surgical and technical veneer to their compositions that was adjoined to higher production values and cleaner tones. Imagine Forbidden's Twisted Into Form with a less impressive, less melodic vocalist at the fore. Unfortunately, though there are some diamonds in the rough here, taking the form of a few individual riffs I found superior to the debut, the album seems to grow progressively less exciting the deeper you go...
Shit begins with a creepy intro, "Comshell 5" that blends some feedback, ambiance and horrific vocal samples into a promising smoothie, then betrayed by the all too standard, mid paced gait of "Global Warming". As you can tell from this title, Evildead were fully in check with the big ticket issues of the late 80s/early 90s, so it's no surprise that they take on the environment, crime, the situation in and surrounding Iraq ("Welcome to Kuwait"), and even a pre-emptive jab at bastards like yours truly ("Critic/Cynic"). But as for the song itself, its easily forgotten beyond the decent lead. "Branded" brings about the thicker bass tone of the album; this and "Welcome to Kuwait" compensate for the rather mundane riffs with some tight fills and increased energy levels, which escalate even further through "Critic/Cynic" and "The 'Hood", utilizing a similar momentum to Vio-Lence on their superior sophomore Oppressing the Masses. There's a cover of the Scorpions' "He's a Woman/She's a Man", which is simply not as confident or fun as the Texan Helstar rendition, and then a trio of solid but ineffective thrashers which don't deviate from the first half of the album.
Of course, some points are given to Evildead for staying pretty true to their motives. We would not be hearing a lame groove-metal mutation out of this act like a Skinlab or Machine Head (fueled by members of Defiance and Vio-Lence, respectively) and the band instead decided to hang up the towel when it was clear there was no future (recently reforming). The Underworld is not lacking for effort, and certainly not mechanical execution; think of it as a tighter, polished interpretation of their debut. But what it does lack is inspiration. The songs here simply don't gel that well at all. None of them scream out for a replay. The debut itself was not exactly a stunner, but it at least had a voracious and driving quality about it that made it pleasing to experience, whereas this successor seems to drown in its own architecture, never offending but also never distending the reach of Evildead to the genre's diminishing audience of the day.
“The Underworld” is far from the classic its predecessor was, mostly due to inconsistency. It is obvious that these songs were written at various points from the band’s career; the best one, “Process Elimination,” is from their demo days. It’s not very thrashy, but rather more speed metal oriented like an aggressive Agent Steel. Yeah, this might be the best song Evildead has ever written.
While the first album relied on progressive structures that were very interesting, this album is primarily in verse-chorus format. While it works superbly in “The Hood,” kind of a groovy thrasher itself, the refrains in “Welcome to Kuwait” and the title track are not very catchy at all. Combine that with the fact that besides some descent solos, this is rather musically simplistic, and you have a handful of boring songs on here.
There are still some fun lyrics to be heard about drug-abuse and mindless sex, but Evildead try to go primarily political here. The lyrics to “Global warming” are embarrassing, and with careless lines like “'Global' warming, 'nationwide' situation…” (notice the error?) they probably would make environmentalists cringe. Hey, at least the atmosphere is still goofy.
What keep this album floating above your generic thrash releases are the stand-out tracks. The aforementioned “Process Elimination” is fist-pounding, horn-throwing speed metal triumph. The Scorpions cover is an excellent reinvention of an already great hard rocker. “Branded” has some powerful riffing going on. As mentioned earlier though, inconsistency plagues this album leaving it a difficult one to pass judgment on.
The production is also much more modern than the debut, and definitely takes some influence from the 90’s groove metal movement. I’m mostly surprised that this influence not only failed to ruin this album entirely, but actually worked well in a few spots. The vocals sound like foreshadowing of bands like Lamb of God, but they are effective in this context.
This is a quite the volatile album, frequently alternating between insipid dullness and thrashing insanity.
Evildead - The Underworld is an aggressive release from a brutal thrash band. That may sound spectacular, but nevertheless it becomes repetitive and stale at times. On this record their sound is similar to Demolition Hammer, but better in the sense that they're slightly more melodic. By melodic I mean there's actually some effort put into their music. They don't have the melody of Iron Maiden, but it's not cacophony like a lot of grind and death metal arethese days.
It begins with an intro(just some noises) that you will learn to skip through after its initial hearing. The album really picks up with Global Warning. It's an intense song with a killer riff. Branded is good, maintaining the deadly sound. The entire band is obviously adept with their instruments, and for some reason the percussion seems rather powerful. The songs have strong riffs throughout most of the album. When judging the vocals I notice they’re more deep than previously on Anihilization Of Civilization. The Underworld(the track itself) is just alright, nothing astonishing. By the time you reach track seven, the album has lost its edge. He's A Woman, She's A Man could have triggered a 180 degree turn around in the right direction, but the title and lyrics ruined any chance. Even with a good riff and chorus, I still have to ask what the hell are they singing about? I'll assume it's their way of messing around. Labyrinth Of The Mind is a terrorizing song, one of my favorites on the album.
The Underworld sounds more thrash than Annihilization Of Civilization. Not to say that their first release isn't within the thrash genre, it's just that The Underworld lacks the speed metal influence, and has slightly slower riffs. Yet, I can't determine which is more quality. I guess I'll say The Underworld, but barely. To put it simply: this is good thrash. If you like bands like Demolition Hammer go for it.
I think the most memorable thing about this album is that the intro features a sample that was also used by the industrial band Nature on their song "Cometh" from 1998, which is the closest thing they ever did to metal. Aaanyway, other than that, it's sort of a mishmash of generic thrash riffage, though at times the head does get to a bangery. Things are not BAD, they're just not particularly interesting.
The album is lyrically comparable to your average pussy social-thrash band, like Sacred Reich or even some of the Anthrax material from that era, though the production is a lot fucking heavier than Sacred Reich ever got - even their "heavy" phase (Ignorance). This is no Darkness Descends, but it is comparable to a slightly less interesting Persistence of Time. The songs aren't quite as epic, and the melodies not nearly as memorable, but there is the straight-ahead single-note mosh riffage present in just about every song.
The higlight of the album is probably the first song, which of course is hella annoying (damn it, save some of the riffs for later!). Global Warming has some of the dumbest lyrics ever, but the fact that they go through about six or seven tempo changes makes this quite an above-average thrash song. Branded features a middle section that pretty much IS Exodus's "Brain Dead", right down to the syllables. The Hood has this completely random intro piece done by some Butthead clone named Roscoe (what the fuck???) and then there's a slightly thrashed-up cover of the venerable He is a Woman, She is a Man by Scorpions. I'm not sure what fascination thrash bands have with this song (Helstar also covered it), because it's not really all that great, and certainly doesn't make that much of a thrasher.
When all is said and done... there's nothing on here that matches the insane power of some of their first album (The Awakening!!!), but it's not really bad. Besides, the Maoist party can't be wrong!!! Heil leftist thrash, as insipid as it may be!