Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

From steel espionage to necromantic thrashing. - 91%

hells_unicorn, November 15th, 2013

On the liner notes of a reissue of Agent Steel's "Unstoppable Force" there was a good deal of allusion to the changing tides of metal circa 1987-88 while said band was touring with a number of reputed thrash metal acts. In essence, the writer seemed to be justifying the breakup of an auspicious purveyor of speed/power metal on the grounds that thrash metal was taking over the scene, and there was definitely something to that when considering the massive explosion of bands on the scene taking their cues from something far more distant from its NWOBHM roots than what had been the norm from 1983-85. More than likely this turn of events came about due to Juan Garcia becoming bored with competing with the likes of Crimson Glory and Helstar, and thus was born Evildead, a thrash metal band that some might dismiss as a mere Johnny-come-lately, but one with a very unique take on things.

Though largely built upon existing methods displayed out of both the New York and Bay Area scenes, "Annihilation Of Civilization" exudes an auspicious brand of eclecticism, almost as if Garcia spent a year listening to every single thrash album he could get his hands on from the likes of Dark Angel, Nuclear Assault, all the way to the progressive world of Voivod and the hyper-technical one of Watchtower. At times this album literally gets fast and frenzied enough to rival "Darkness Descends" and "Show No Mercy" (see "The Awakening" and "Unauthorized Exploitation"), yet while the namesake of this band and the implicit imagery of this album's intro snippet from the same film hint at a red influence in line with said bands, the lyrical content cuts heavily in favor of the political and environmental green thrash craze spearheaded by Anthrax, Nuclear Assault and Sacred Reich.

While at times the lyrics get a bit overly preachy and even a bit grating (see "Future Shock", which gets about as brazen as "Surf Nicaragua" in its message campaign), the musical interplay between rivaling styles is just interesting enough to make anyone averse to left-wing politics not care. Particularly the lead happy "Parricide" and the otherwise bludgeoning Slayer fest of a title song "Annihilation Of Civilization" take a fair amount of time to let Garcia's technical chops steal the show, and what emerges is a set of spacey guitar harmonies that remind a bit of the occasional progressive influences heard on "Killing Technology", though the beginning of the former song also hints at a slight throwback to an Agent Steel take on an Iron Maiden harmony. Then again, the overtly punk-infused bonus track "B.O.H.I.C.A." listens like a direct nod to "Hang The Pope" with a lot of guitar noodling thrown in, with the usual lyrical comedy to go with it.

But the area where things really get interesting is where all of these influences smash up against each other into one of the most highly distinctive thrash anthems to hit the speakers since Metallica's "Battery", namely "Gone Shooting". One of the few songs that is mercifully free of political pandering, this sucker tells the story of a crazed mass killer with a heavy dose of technique and aggression to boot. The same flashy dual guitar harmonies collide with a descending tremolo riff reminiscent of Slayer circa "Hell Awaits", but at a slightly slower tempo and with a set of pounding mid-tempo sections. The only thing in this extravaganza of sectional twists and turns that comes off as slightly mundane is Phil Flores' vocal delivery, which doesn't venture beyond a straight gruff yell after the Chuck Billy approach minus the occasional high-pitched wails. It works well because it gets out of the way of the superior musical devices at work when called for, but it does leave one wanting for a slightly more dynamic vocal presence.

If going by this album alone, one might conclude that Juan Garcia made one of the most radically successful sub-genre hops in the history of metal music, though things would get toned down a bit considerably with the Evildead follow up, likely due to label pressure for a more radio friendly approach, or just because Garcia and company saw fit to follow the trend where ever it went. Granted, Agent Steel remains a slightly better project and definitely a bit more original of one for its time, but this album nips at its heels with a rather vicious bite and definitely stands as one of the better thrash albums to come out in the latter days of the style's peak. It might come off as slightly schizophrenic to the average green thrasher who sticks primarily to crossover and New York based bands or the Bay Area aggression fanatic for that matter, but uniqueness has a habit of confounding conventional wisdom.