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British glimmer of hope - 77%

Felix 1666, March 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Earache Records

No doubt, the greatest and most influential thrash bands originate from the US of A (Metallica, Slayer, Exodus...) or from Germany (Destruction, Kreator, Sodom), while the thrashing comrades from the United Kingdom either were not able to surpass a certain level (Xentrix, Slammer, D.A.M.) or they died a sudden death after a few albums (Sabbat). Evile from Huddersfield do not have the potential to dethrone the kings of the genre as well, because their mature form of thrash has many parallels to some outputs of Metallica (but not to the shitty ones like "Load"). This fact prevents a high degree of originality. Yet we know that uniqueness is no value in itself.

Evile's compositions lack insanity and unrest, the guys rather perform a dignified form of thrash. Fortunately, this does not exclude some speedy outbursts. The title track, for example, has some rapid and pretty intense sections. The whirling guitars during these parts give the song a vehement touch, while the well-defined chorus puts the emphasis on catchiness. Speaking of this feature, the group does not only score with catchy choruses ("Eternal Empire"). The band members have written very memorable riffs, too. "Cult" has bone-dry riffs, grows constantly and develops earworm qualities. This mid-paced piece combines melodic elements with an aggressive undertone. Exactly this mix and the clear, vigorous voice of the Hetfield-esque lead vocalist characterise a song that invites the listener to a casual headbanging session. Old dudes like me appreciate the fact that they do not need to overstress their neck musculature during this session, but on a more serious note, this is one of these songs which prove evidence that thrash metal is not only based on high velocity. This finding connects "Cult" with most tracks of Armoured Angel, although the legendary Australians and Evile do not have too much in common other than that.

The album profits from a very good production. "Five Serpent's Teeth" unites the best of two worlds. On the one hand, it scores with metallic robustness. The transparent, crunchy and mighty sound leaves no doubt that this metal band knows for what it stands for. On the other hand, they offer a mix that does not deter open-minded rock fans to give it chance. It's a modern yet organic sound, very well-balanced, voluminous and without any major deficiencies. Of course, these keepers of the Holy Grail who think that formations like Napalm Death or Agathocles are too commercial will say that the full-length sounds f**king polished, but we do not need to believe every word they speak.

Just believe ME, I am telling you the truth. Well, my very personal truth. Some call it just opinion... fools! However, I can assure you that there happens a lot on this album. The songs definitely do not lack substance and they avoid repetitiveness despite the luxurious playtime of 53 minutes. They are not progressively devised, nonetheless, one must invest time in order to decode the material completely. But it is definitely worth the effort, because lukewarm or lacklustre songs have not been recorded. I don't say that each and every cut hits the bull's eye, but even the credible ballad for their deceased bass player does not fall by the wayside, songs like the rasping "Xaraya" show the power of mid-paced pieces and the very direct "Long Live New Flesh" marks a brilliant, blustery closer. I am sure that the four dudes took care of every detail during the recordings without killing a certain spontaneity. In this light, I have respect for the professional ethics of these guys. The thrash scene of the UK will stay in the shadow of the greater communities, but Evile are a glimmer of hope.

Thrash metal done right - 90%

captaincrunchy, November 25th, 2013

New wave thrash metal is gradually developing its leaders; the copycats and trend-hoppers dissolve or just fade away while the truly determined and talented cement their position and advance musically. Warbringer, Toxic Holocaust and Havok are within this upper echelon, and Evile was one of the earliest contenders as well and truly won their place with this release. A tour de force in how to make an original thrash album in the new millennium, it gained the band significantly more recognition and a small string of minor hits.

Ambition definitely seethes from Five Serpent's Teeth. The riffs are commanding, and melodic yet forceful choruses attach jagged hooks to the roaring thrash machine. Matt Drake really shows his prowess as a singer on this record, while maintaining the ripping shout displayed throughout the band's well-known debut record Enter the Grave. Compared to a number of thrash vocalists that just yell over the music, Matt really turns his voice into an instrument of its own.

The guitar work is executed with tact and precision, from the muscular riffing to the razor-sharp leads provided by Ol Drake. Each solo is intense in its own right and contributes to the momentum of the song while also displaying Evile's melodic sensibilities, rather than showboating musical masturbation. The crushing mid-tempo of Infected Nations is set aside in favor of the racing, energetic feel of Enter the Grave, and all for the better. The songs feel very individual and independent rather than a soup of riffs strung together. Ben Carter's drumming remains as powerful and inventive as ever, creative fills and beats providing the speed to the thrash.

Of special note is the melodic ballad In Memoriam, fantastic, emotionally potent and very well-executed. Ballads, especially from thrash metal bands, often catch a lot of crap from purist imbeciles that think the only emotion bands should display is anger. However having lost their bassist Mike Alexander quite suddenly while on tour, it only makes sense that they would place their grief into their music. Make no mistake, this isn't post-grunge radio fodder, but a truly heartfelt tribute to one of their own that shows a different side of the band.

The strength of Five Serpent's Teeth is the strength of its songs. Every track is there for a purpose and there is not a trace of filler. The production is phenomenal, and every song is quite listenable and several positively soar above the output of their competitors. As thrash continues to re-enter the collective consciousness of today's metal fans, Evile will definitely remain at the forefront.

Highlights: Title track, Cult, Centurion, In Memoriam

So much more than "just a tribute to the big four" - 92%

ROVL, March 4th, 2013

After 2 busy years of touring, Evile returned with their third studio album. In October 2009 some might have asked themselves “will there even be a third record” because of the sudden death of bass player Mike Alexander, but soon enough Evile came up with a statement telling they would continue playing and were in search of a new bass player. Joel Graham joined the band and they continued touring in support of their album “Infected Nations”. And now they are back with “Five Serpent's Teeth”. Now, before you quit reading this review, yes, I am about to praise this album and yes, I am also giving the right motives for my shameless worship of Evile. We all know they were influenced by Metallica, but now let's actually review the album instead of looking back at bands that lost it in the '90s.

Though the first reviews of their second studio album, "Infected Nations", were pretty positive, the album got bad reception later on by their own fan base. The album would be too slowly paced and lacked the thrashy feel that 2007's Enter The Grave had. It featured an over 10 minute long slower instrumental track as well. Fans were turned off by the fact that Evile had tried something rather different from the first record, therefore it seems that Evile have taken this new album as an opportunity to show their fan base that they are back with good old thrash metal.

The new album does show similarities with '80s Metallica, but to say this album is a complete Metallica rip-off is quite an insult to this amazing band. It annoys me to see that so many actually dislike this album because it's thrash. It feels like people dislike the album because it wasn't made in the '80s, which is bollocks, of course.

Needless to say, "Five Serpent's Teeth" is as thrash as it gets in the 21st century. Blistering riffs, an angry young lad providing vocals, sick solos, and the drums set a frantic pace. It's a thrash album most bands in the '80s could only have dreamed of creating actually, but is that a bad thing? Of course they are heavily influenced by Metallica as well by other thrash titans from the '80s. I think this record is something we, the metal community, should be very happy with. "Five Serpents Teeth" is thrash metal the way it should be and yet it's an album with variations to it, so why can't people just be excited that there is actually still a great, young, fast-as-fuck thrash band out there nowadays?

At some points, Evile even surpasses Metallica on "Five Serpent's Teeth". Let's face it, ever since Metallica lost Mustaine, their solos haven't been the best aspect of their songwriting. Ol Drake (Evile's lead guitarist), however, turns out to be an insane lead guitarist on this record. Ol combines the frantic style of Kerry King and the melodic madness of Marty Friedman. One thing is certain is that this is a real must have for guitar-loving metalheads, especially the crazy, speedy riffs of “In Dreams Of Terror” and “Descent Into Madness”, which show what these talented musicians can do. The final track also showcases Matt Drake's solo qualities in an impressive solo battle between the Drake brothers.

The new guy, Joel Graham, also deserves some credit for this great album. The long haired fella plays all these crazy riffs with his fingers, which is really something to admire. His bass parts really add something to the album from time to time. We even get to hear a little kind of bass outro on “Descent into Madness”. It's a harsh thing to say, but I think this 'replacement' was actually a good thing for Evile's music. Too bad he is kind of low in the mix. Ben Carter's drumming is great as usual.

Even though the vast majority of the album is just old school, fast thrash metal, the album does have some variations to it. Tracks like “Cult”, “Xaraya”, and “In Memoriam” give the album that extra bit what makes it great. The latter is the first ballad recorded by the band. “Cult” is a real headbangers' song. It's slower paced and has an anthem-like chorus that will get the live crowds pumped up for a great show. Matt's vocals are just great and blend aggression with melody in a way that I have only heard before from James Hetfield and Chuck Billy. I love the way his voice stays raw, yet he sings melodically. This is something that a lot of metal vocalists lack nowadays. I can understand people think it sounds like Hetfield, but I don't consider that as a bad thing.

The great production takes the album to an even higher level. It gives it a modern feel, but keeps it real with no triggers and no over-compression. An important thing to mention is the fact that the album wasn't produced by just Russ Russell, but was co-produced by lead guitarist Ol Drake. Just after the solo section on the ballad of the album ,“In Memoriam”, we get to hear one of the album's highlights (production-wise that is). An absolute wall of sound bursts into the listener's ears in this emotional tribute to their late bass player, Mike Alexander. It shows how great the cooperation of Russ and Ol turned out. I hope Evile keeps cooperating with Russ Russell on their upcoming albums because it seems to work very well to me.

To wrap it up, this is just a great thrash metal record. Almost every track on it is great ass-kicking stuff, so it was hard to choose any highlights. Evile perfected their sound and made something that is their own while staying true to their thrash roots.

- In Dreams of Terror
- Descent into Madness
- In Memoriam

Did they hear the voice of reason? - 91%

ShadeOfDarkness, July 4th, 2012

Evile is a band that has been able to get surprisingly far in the new wave of thrash scene. Actually, I should say the metal scene in general, as a lot of my buddies are starting to recognize them. I guess you could say they've been through thick and thin already, considering the death of bassist Mike Alexander (R.I.P.), and that has changed them quite drastically in some ways.

So here we got their third offering "Five Serpent's Teeth". An album released by a band that has matured quite a lot since their rise to popularity. To go from singing about how cool it is to thrash and drink beer to serious themes like... uh... I'm stupid. I don't really get what they're singing about nowdays, but what I do realize is that these are definitely more serious themes than what they've sung about before. But oh well. Let's get to the actual music.

On "Enter The Grave", Evile showed us that they were perfectly capable of worshipping Slayer to a great extent. Seems like they got tired of that though. So they decided to take their sound to a progressive and dark nature on "Infected Nations", and that worked out quite well for them. Now they want to go for more of a traditional bay area Metallica/Megadeth-esque sound, and that's not wrong either. Damn, these guys can do quite a lot eh? Songs like the title track, "Eternal Empire", and "Descent Into Madness" are great examples of what good and slightly melodic thrash sounds like. They still have some of that dark and depressive atmosphere they had on "Infected Nations", and that's what differentiates them from being a total Metallica worship band.

Matt Drake has gone through a lot of phases when it comes to his vocals. He started out as a "shouter" as I like to call them, providing Tom Araya-esque yells and shouts all the time. He then decided that holding notes for long amounts of time was kind of a cool thing, and so you have his "Infected Nations" style of singing. It seems like he then thought: "Hmm, maybe I was just a little to monotonous on IE. I wanna change it up again!" And that he did ladies and gentlemen. His style is now pretty similar to James Hetfield, Chuck Billy, and somewhat Dave Mustaine. This definitely fits the music all the way through.

Alright... What can I say about Ol's guitar work? Well, that guy sure as hell knows his instrument. He has found a sound that fits Evile really well. Songs like "Descent Into Madness" has got really fast palm-muted parts that are really catchy, and get's your adrenaline pumping at once. He also showcases some great solos in tracks like "Xaraya" (which is probably the most proggressive "Infected Nations" sounding track on here) and "Centurion" which is a dark and gloomy track. Matt and Ol also knows how to play accustically, and "In Memoriam" is where it happens. This is a great tribute to Mike Alexander.

The drumming is generally faster than on Infected Nations. Fast, double-bass cannon parts as in "Long Live New Flesh", "Origin of Oblivion" and "Eternal Empire" are really energetic, and gives the track that aggression they deserve. Ben also provides nice slow parts in "In Memoriam", which also fits naturally in with the rest of the instruments.

The pressence of the bass is not that huge on the album, but the bassist actually has got a really cool solo in "Descent Into Madness". It's always a good thing when the bassist gets the opportunity to shine a little.

"Five Serpent's Teeth" is an album that showcases how good melodic thrash should be played and done. It's got the aggression, the catchy melodies, and that overall feeling that a melodic thrash record needs. Are you tired of all the black/thrash bands that are hot nowdays? Get this album to hear something a little different!

The deadly strike of a pitch black hydra. - 84%

hells_unicorn, June 1st, 2012

The question of Evile as a band is really the question of the entire thrash revivalist movement at large, save a few obvious outliers. They embody both the conservative tendencies of the scene as it pertains to its base influences from San Francisco, to Brazil, to New York, and all the way over to Germany, as well as the ability of its bands to, for the most part, avoid outright plagiarism in their efforts to relive an era. Evile is unique in that while they take their prime influence directly from the earliest proponents of the style, namely Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, they’ve also been able to translate into something that is distinct from any band in the 80s. It’s almost like looking into a mirror and seeing a gateway to a parallel world where things happened in a similar fashion, yet the sky is just a little bit darker, the wind gusts just a little bit harder, and the cold has a bit more bite to it.

The parallels that this band shares with Metallica extends beyond mere musical emulation, as the tragic loss of a bassist was instilled in this band’s psyche fairly early on in their still ongoing career as well. But Evile’s musical reaction to this turn of events in “Five Serpent’s Teeth” has not resulted in a poorly produced, politically charged preach fest with a dab of fatalism as it did on “…And Justice For All”. Instead, the music takes on a somewhat mature, yet still wildly aggressive approach where slower ideas are incorporated, but the faster and nastier side of the band still dominates the whole. Nevertheless, there remains a casual familiarity between this album and Metallica’s latter 80s and early 90s commercial time period in Matt Drakes vocals, which have inched very close to Hetfield’s vocal style from that era, though hints of Tom Araya are still to be found here and there, particularly on the faster material.

Things open on a frighteningly familiar note, as the title song “Five Serpent’s Teeth” carries a menacing swell of electric guitar themes at its onset heavily reminiscent of “Blackened”. Once things get going, the overall feel is pretty similar to said Metallica song, but unlike some of the other emulators found throughout the world of thrash of late, this song’s similarity to anything done in the 80s is accomplished through employing the same style, but not any paraphrased riff ideas. This is, by all standards, an original song that just happens to be heavily reminiscent of a number of bands who were taking influences from Metallica, and fits itself very nicely into the modern era where guitars carry a bit more punch and the overall sound is much more bombastic.

As things continue to unfold, it is quickly discovered that while many late 80s albums were indulging in atmospheric and studio gimmicks, Evile is more content to simply cut to the chase and get directly to the thrashing. Whether things are kept at a blistering tempo as on “In Dreams Of Terror”, “Origin Of Oblivion” and “Descent Into Madness” and take on more of a “Reign In Blood” meets “South Of Heaven” character, or if things are a bit slower and more in line with the restrained, late 80s Metallica approach such as on “Eternal Empire” and “Cult”, there’s no beating around the bush to speak of. That’s really always been Evile’s greatest strength as a band, there isn’t a whole lot of extraneous detailing gumming up the works, as their intent is simply to provide a hard hitting, pummeling thrash experience while still maintaining a level of originality. There are bands such as Vektor that are more concerned with expanding the possibilities of the genre, but here the aim is to distill all of the best elements of what has already been into one tight, fist pumping package.

While not quite the straight-lined, frenzied, out of control punch to the face that was “Enter The Grave”, there are a couple of key moments where this album comes into its own and really delivers a fresh, distinctive experience. “In Memoriam”, a ballad that was no doubt inspired by the recent passing of Mike Alexander, is very indicative of the influence Metallica has had on this band. However, rather than trying to extract a similar sounding variation on said band’s “Unforgiven” series or maybe taking a few obvious pointers from “Fade To Black” or “To Live Is To Die”, what is found here is almost like a composite of parts of the latter two songs with a strong Testament influence, being solemn and somber throughout, rather than breaking into an outright triumphant outro or interlude to speak of. The closing song “Long Live New Flesh” is much closer to a fast paced thrasher in the mold of what was heard on “Enter The Grave”, and yet this song can’t help but stick in my mind for its obvious nods to one of my favorite early 80s horror movies and also a lot of really distinctive riffs. The principle chorus riff is somewhat reminiscent of the opening part of Sabbath’s “T.V. Crimes”, but the whole duration of this song is more of a jump started version of “Through The Never”, as if having been reinterpreted by Slayer 4 years before it was originally written.

It’s pretty easy to draw parallels to Metallica and simply dismiss this band and this album as just a derivative worship fest. But doing so would discount that the riffs here are just a tad more intricate than anything said band did after 1985, that the lead guitar work is much more animated and interesting than anything Kirk Hammett’s formulaic pentatonic shred sections even accomplished, and that the vocals on here are still youthful and powerful, rather than haggard and washed up the way Hetfield’s has been for the past 17 years. Obviously this is made to order for any self-respecting fan of thrash metal, but this is also an album that will probably have a bit more appeal to non-thrash fans than their previous works, precisely because they’ve developed a more balanced approach here between speed and heaviness that pretty much any metal fan should be able to appreciate.

A renewed sense of focus goes a long way - 70%

Radagast, January 6th, 2012

At the time of its release, Evile’s 2nd CD ‘Infected nations’ was showered with plaudits for breaking away from the strictly traditional thrash approach of their highly successful debut. In some quarters that enthusiasm seems to have cooled a little in the past couple of years though, with some of those initially taken in by the CD now admitting that “plodding” and “confused” were perhaps more appropriate descriptive terms than “epic” and “progressive”.

In their position as one of the first of the so-called “retro thrash” bands of the last 5 years or so to hit the big time with an international record company, something of a backlash was to be expected and in retrospect, ‘Infected nations’ could be seen as a response to that. There’s no crime there – everyone wants to find their own place, and trying to avoid being just another clichéd throwback is to be applauded, but it was most definitely a case of trying too hard.

The band themselves seem to have taken a step back and reassessed the direction they were heading in, and ‘Five serpent’s teeth’ is rather happily something of a halfway house between their first 2 CDs. First and foremost, it is primarily a thrash CD, no questions asked. The vim and furious energy of ‘Enter the grave’ is back, and is coupled with the increased lyrical maturity and enthusiasm to avoid knocking off other people’s riffs of the follow-up.

The more cynical out there may call it a compromise, but in reality it is a commendable decision at a crucial stage in their career to take stock and shore up the things that were working while jettisoning those that weren’t. Songs such as “Now, demolition” (a stinker since its live introduction back in early 2009) that trudged along endlessly with no urgency or direction were the bane of ‘Infected nations’ and thankfully are nowhere to be found here.

Rather than getting caught up in meandering, overlong arrangements just for the sake of sounding different, Evile instead are now just getting on with playing thrash, only without making such a big deal out of it. Rather than songs about moshing or Rambo films (fun in 2007, rather tiresome now to be honest) they have continued to dig a little deeper in the lyrical stakes – while admittedly still not works of poetry, there is a little more subtlety to Matt Drake’s words, and themes alluding to classic sci-fi works and the Roman Empire make for a satisfyingly dark listen.

Musically they have managed to strike a reasonable balance between uncomplicated but effective 80s-style ragers, and other songs that retain cohesive structures while leaving room for increased technicality and some decidedly un-thrash moments that generally work pretty well. “Centurion” is a successful example of epic thrash, featuring expanses of wide-open strumming and arranged with enough sophistication to make use of melodic guitars without compromising the song’s intensity.

“Origin of oblivion” is maybe about as far as it goes in the technicality stakes, with the opening flurry a joy to behold and Ol Drake’s soloing – impressive and inventive as ever throughout – scaling some new heights. The tragic death of bassist Mike Alexander was always something Evile were going to dedicate a song to, and it is on “In memoriam” (poignantly opening on a bass line created by the man himself) that they slow thing down for a soulful ballad. Wisely, they keep the lyrics somewhat ambiguous rather than an on-the-nose tribute to their fallen friend, and it makes for a more universal song that doesn’t feel out of place on an otherwise heavy as can be expected CD.

This is the most obviously non-thrash track on ‘Five serpent’s teeth’, and while not perfect it is a bold and unapologetic effort. Other than this, a couple of breakdowns admittedly rears their heads from time to time but, hand on heart, they are executed with enough taste and restraint to complement their parent songs rather than sounding like out of place efforts at crowd placating.

In a final bit of comparison to works gone by, Matt Drake’s vocal performance is an area of huge improvement after his iffy turn on ‘Infected nations’. The bark is back in his voice, and the atonal wailing that he delivered last time out is thankfully in short supply.

In both my previous reviews of Evile CDs I have compared him heavily to other singers, but here for the first time he simply sounds like Matt Drake. The vocalist finding himself and raising his performance is symptomatic of the band as a whole outgrowing their comfort zone origins and nailing something close to a voice of their own – and one that this time around is almost entirely satisfying to listen to.

(Originally written for

Honour thy master - 80%

androdion, November 7th, 2011

Evile are back with a new album that continues to pave their way down the thrash revivalism road. Not contempt with their past efforts and always pushing forward, the band returns in full force with Five Serpent’s Teeth.

There’s been a revivalism of the thrash metal scene in the last few years, with a lot of bands “modernizing” the late eighties and early nineties sound. Evile are one of such bands, playing what is nowadays known as “retro-thrash”. It’s basically old school thrash metal with a bit more of groove and modern production values. This movement however has been a two-edged sword since its inception, as many fans complain about the old school magic being dead and gone. I certainly agree with such opinions up to a certain point, because this new thrash movement is far away from the original one in the early eighties. And when you think of thrash metal do you even think of the UK? No, you instantly think of the Bay Area and German scenes, which is from where 90% of the better known bands in the genre come from. There were some decent British thrash bands back in the day, like Sabbat, Xentrix or Deathwish, but the UK was always more of a place for heavy metal to pop up than thrash. So if old school thrash wasn’t great how could you expect for newer thrash to be better?!

Here enters Evile, a young and ambitious band, hailing from her majesty’s kingdom and trying to show the world that the retro-thrash scene isn’t all bad. They’re currently one of the leading bands of the movement, and they keep showing that they’re here to stay for many years. So on to their new album then. I must say that the first couple of times that I’ve heard the album it failed to impress me, but third time’s a charm and I eventually got into it. Now don’t go on and think that this is the saviour of the decadent thrash scene, nor that it is the second coming of Slayer! It’s a good solid album with some great moments, but it’s nothing outstanding or amazingly brilliant.

Opening the album is the title track with its first fifty seconds worth of intro that suddenly burst into a groovey riff with a cool thrash beat, and then James Hetfield starts singing! No, not really, but I wouldn’t be surprised if an unaware listener would pass this off as Metallica. Mind you it’s much more thrash-oriented than anything that Metallica released in the past 20 years, and a good sign of this would be the blazing leads pass the three and a half minute mark. One after the other they rip through the ranks the way they should. The chorus is pretty cool but it’s kind of strange how Matt Drake sounds so similar to James. Next track starts in a kick-ass manner but it suddenly drops into another groovey riff that is again akin to more mid-tempo thrash, with the main chorus and the leads proving to be a bit disappointing this time around. Again a not so subtle “Black Album” presence hovers through Evile’s music, and not that it’s a bad album (I actually like it and own it) but I was expecting a more “in your face” attitude from these guys. Again it’s not that the songs or their execution are bad, they just seem too influenced by Metallica circa 1991. Third track called “Cult” enters the stage and the same thought that was present on the first two is there again. I don’t mind similarities but this is getting ridiculous… Just listen to “In Memoriam” and tell me that’s not a Metallica song. I mean this song could have been in the actual “Black Album”!

Despite all the similarities in style, vocal range and even in some riffs it’s safe to say one thing, these guys are talented musicians and they don’t pretend to play thrash, they really do it. The Drake brothers prove on this album that they’re heavily influenced by the Bay Area style with lightning speed palm muted riffs like the ones in “Eternal Empire” and “Origin Of Oblivion”, leads that can melt you brain like in the title track and “Descend Into Madness”, and slow grooves that just pummel you down like on “Xaraya” or “Centurion”. You know what? After a few listens this becomes a decent and pleasant listening experience. I would certainly dig it a lot more (and many people will probably agree with me when I say this) if the album was more oriented into the faster side of thrash instead of being half-and-half of slow grooves and fast leads. These guys can reach bigger heights but for that they need to differentiate themselves from their predecessors and what would probably be their biggest influence, Metallica. Evile need to pick up on what they’ve done so far and try to build a sound that is their own and not just borrowed from this album or that band. They’re clearly capable of such as they’re talented blokes, it’s just a matter of the will to do so.

There are some really good songs here as I’ve pointed out above, some great guitar work and even the drumming has its moments. The bass is felt through the album but it’s just there, never doing much more than accompanying the rest of the band. I say that these guys can deliver more and I hope that they do it in the near future. For now this is a fun album and a cool listen, like the “Black Album” on acid and more rabid, but at the same time it still feels a bit restrained. This is certainly worth your money as Evile prove again why they’re one of the better bands of this new wave of thrash metal. They’re still lacking that little extra something that’s keeping them from reaching higher places, although I believe they have what it takes to get there. It’s just a matter of time I suppose, and I for one am looking forward to this band’s bright future!

Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine

Evile - Five Serpent's Teeth - 80%

mwdmusic, October 7th, 2011

It's very hard to shine as a thrash metal band these days. Back in the day when Metallica were still thrash and Slayer were just breaking through, thrash was something only the select few were brave enough to try. It involved being faster, harder and more extreme than your contemporaries.

Nowadays though, there are more thrash metal bands around than I care to count. The risk is that they can sound very same-y, in most cases very little can separate between the best and the worst in the genre. In a lot of cases the vocals sound very similar, the guitar tones are the same even riffs begin to sound overly familiar after a while.

This was the initial impression I had of Evile when I listened to their debut album Enter The Grave way back in 2007. I'm not saying it was a bad album, but for me it sounded too much like other bands I was listening to at the time and it just kind of got lost in the mire of Slayer, Kreator and Destruction albums. As a result of my initial impression I entirely skipped past their second release Infected Nations, a decision I'm starting to regret based off their new opus, Five Serpent's Teeth.

This album is something else all together. It's still thrash, it still sounds like Evile, but its not all just playing as fast as physically possible. There is a melodic focus in the songs here and a lot more hooks. One of my biggest beefs with thrash metal is that quite frequently, the vocals are just atonal shouting (I'm looking at you Tom Araya) without any melodic content whatsoever. Matt Drake (vocals, rhythm guitar) has brought to the mix a genuine ability to sing and can hold a melody very well. During the heavier sections you can hear him channelling James Hetfield's best work snarling his way through the darkest of dark lyrics. Yet on songs like Cult (incidentally, the first single from the album), shows that as well as being brutal and confrontational, Matt can be sinister and surreptitious, begging you all to join his cult while Ol Drake (lead guitar) wails behind him with a harmonised lead line. Its all quite hypnotic and very effective. However the best example of Matt's ability to properly sing rather than just yell is In Memoriam, Evile's tribute to their fallen brother, Mike Alexander. Think of it as Evile's own Cemetery Gates, its poignant, touching and a fitting tribute.

In terms of the guitar work, both Matt and Ol must be almost at the point where they can be labelled as guitar heroes. The riffs are heavy, fast and precise enough to make an army sniper jealous. The two of them must have wrist tendons made of elastic because the intense riffing is relentless. In particular the title track, In Dreams Of Terror and Xaraya highlight the brilliance of the brothers and their abilities. Xaraya in particular slows things down a bit to a half time beat but loses none of the power, menace and intensity that the faster tracks that come before and after offer. In fact, its a nice breather in the middle of the album with still plenty of scope to do some serious head-banging. The guitar tone is nice and heavy but not overpowering, it doesn't fall into the trap of being overly noisy and dominating the mix, which does make a very welcome change.

Ol takes things to another level with his lead work on this album. The man is just insanely good. In fact, as a guitarist myself, I'm showing some major shred-envy at some of the work Ol has put out here. The solo for In Dreams Of Terror takes a fast section and just makes it even faster. I've caught myself sitting with my mouth hanging open at what Ol can do. The intro to Origin Of Oblivion or the solo in Centurion are both just amazing stuff. Its a crime that this man is not as well known outside of the thrash circles.

Any fan of Evile will remember the tragedy that befell them in 2009 when the original bass player, Mike, sadly passed away while the band were on tour in Sweden. It hit the band understandably hard but credit to them, they weathered the grief and have soldiered on. This album is the first recorded material with the new boy, Joel Graham.

One of the trappings of thrash is that the guitars and the drums tend to drown out the bass. This is because the bass tends to follow the riffs of the guitars, partly due to the overall speed of the riffs but also to stop things getting mushy in an already very busy sound scape. I'm pleased to report though that you can hear the bass pinning everything down. It generally does follow the riffs of the guitars but there are some notable exceptions, primarily in Origin Of Oblivion where you can hear Joel going off and doing his own thing in sections and the bass solo intro to In Memoriam, a song about Mike's tragic passing. He had some big boots to fill as Mike was well loved in the thrash scene and from what I've been able find on youtube and about him on the internet, he was a lovely guy and an awesome bass player. Joel has stepped up admirably, its not easy replacing a band member after a tragedy (just ask the likes of Jason Newstead), so well done to Joel for fitting in the mix so well.

Sometimes in thrash its very difficult to stand out as a drummer, in fact it can be harder than a guitarist or singer because of the percussive nature of drums. Fortunately for Ben Carter he doesn't fall into a pattern of the same beats over and over again, he changes things up frequently. He has to keep the high pace going so it can sound same-y, but if you listen closely to tracks like Descent Into Madness or Eternal Empire you can hear where he might add an extra hit of the kick drum or little embellishment on the cymbals to make each section sound unique. It takes a keen drummer not to just hit the kit as fast as physically possible, but to work within the confines of a genre and do something individual. Don't get me wrong though, he hits the kit with such power and pace you would think he had just had an argument with it, but he doesn't come off sounding like all the other thrash drummers out there.

This album is going to be what brings Evile to the forefront of UK metal. Their previous albums were well received but Five Serpent's Teeth has all the components to help them make it big. Its heavy, its fast, its catchy, its powerful, its dark and its even emotional. If this is the way modern thrash is going then I'm glad to be a metal fan because this is a quality album that anyone with even the slightest curiosity about the thrash side of things should check this out.

Its pleasantly surprised me and I sincerely hope that Evile get all the success they deserve.

Master of serpents is pulling your teeth - 62%

autothrall, September 26th, 2011

Assuming that this whole flashback thrash scene doesn't fall entirely on its ass in the next few years, Evile are one of the few bands that probably 'have it made'. They've got enormous visibility through their deal with Earache, lots of touring under their belts, and their 2009 sophomore Infected Nations was a clear improvement over its predecessor Enter the Grave (an album I didn't really care for). The tragic loss of bassist Mike Alexander (eerily similar to Metallica, who happen to be their biggest influence) has served only to draw the band together, stronger and forge further along the road of solid hooks, taut musicianship and dynamic flexibility. What I like the most about this British band is that they have outgrown the 'hey guys, look, we're THRASH' that poisoned their debut and most of the younger acts in this field. This is no longer a joke, it's the real deal, and they seem intent on propagating the genre rather than merely mocking it.

That aside, there were many moments on Five Serpent's Teeth in which I felt like the band was flirting a bit too close to its 1984-88 Metallica obsession. Matt Drake's vocals tend to sound a lot like James Hetfield, or at least his percussive strings of syllables, and this is especially true in the title track, "In Dream of Terror", and "Eternal Empire". Now, this is Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets era primarily, which is not at all a bad influence (hell, these are some of my favorite albums ever), but I'm just not sure Evile has the songwriting chops to really pull it off. Now, I could tell you I heard Xentrix or Defiance in their sound, two more obscure 80s thrash entities (one also from England), but then, that amounts to the same, since both were heavily influenced themselves by Metallica. That's not to say that the band's entire riff palette is 'borrowed' or paraphrased directly from that one band. You'll hear a bit of Megadeth, Slayer or Exodus, but the way Drake's vocals carve out aggressive melodies is almost always in that Hetfield/Billy camp.

So now that we've got that out of the way, that this is essentially Master of Puppets for a new generation, only nowhere near as strong, I've got to admit that I found this album inferior to Infected Nations. There are a few moments of melodic gleam. The intro to the title track, for example, or the galloping scream of the leads in "Descent Into Madness" and "Long Live New Flesh", but the chorus sequences just don't seem to gather up that punch that they need to slide around in the brain for any more than a few moments. You'll find plenty of variation here, from the token ballad "In Memorium" (it's no "Fade to Black") to the more potent chargers like "Long Live New Flesh" or the titular opener, but even the latter fail to really capitalize on the momentum they set forth. The fact that a handful of riffs here feel like clear Easter egg tributes to Master of Puppets staples like "Leper Messiah" and "Battery" doesn't really help matters, it only increases my desire to once again listen to that record, which does it all right.

So are there redeeming factors? The production, for one. The guitars are hefty, punctual and contrast nicely with the band's intense leads, which are yet another forte. The band never drones on repeatedly at the same pace: each composition is crafted with ample versatility so as not to sink the listener's attention span. The lyrics aren't so bad; not exactly conjuring up the most striking and poignant of images, but consistent with stuff like Metallica or Flotsam & Jetsam from the late 80s. Ultimately, Five Serpent's Teeth serves only as a competent shadow of its primary stylistic precursor, never really achieving the ability to surpass the obvious. It's not a negative goal to want to revisit or reinvent such a monolithic sound, but you've really got to deliver, and I'm just not hearing those unforgettable songs that made the Bay Area giants the wealthiest thrashers in the universe. Infected Nations honestly felt like it might break free from the elephant in the room, but this new album feels like a 25 year step back beneath the pachyderm.