27 May 2013
by Rob McAuslan
So, “nu-thrash” is dead then? It seems so and not before time really – as a notorious grump and long-time thrasher myself, the majority of the latter-day neon-and-bandanas “party thrash” contingent got right on my norks. More of a pastiche that missed pretty much the entire point of the genre rather than a valid movement, it won’t be terribly missed around here. This won’t affect Huddersfield’s Evile much with them being cut from an altogether more authentic cloth, with Skull marking their fourth album in six years.
Where 2011’s Five Serpent’s Teeth expanded Evile’s musical vocabulary, Skull feels like the result of the band having had grammar lessons to go with their new lexis. There’s a confidence present that replaces some of the previous record’s moments of slight insecurity. Whilst opener ‘Underworld’ bursts out of the traps at a fairly frantic rate, the band show a newfound restraint around their more vicious tempos, using them as more of a precision attack than the heads-down bludgeoning of their early releases. There’s a more assured performance from Matt Drake again too, with more power and melodic suss on display from the frontman. Obviously we’re treated to the usual splattering of mental lead-work from Ol Drake too, backed by a varied and interesting selection of riffs that are used to navigate some very good songs indeed.
All good then? Not entirely. There’s nothing actually wrong here – Skull is definitely a great record full of thrashy goodness – but Evile’s evolution (Evileution? No? YOU shut up!) feels like it’s taking them on the same musical journey as a lot of their influences took back in the late 80s/early 90s, and it’s giving me a bit of pause. All the harmonised leads, cheeky rhythmic switcharoos, big chunky mid-paced sections and twinkly acoustic parts that pepper this album are really good, and give an element of light and shade that’s missing from so many other modern thrash records, but there’s a real danger of going too far down that road and ending up somewhere else entirely.
Watch the lyric video to ‘Underworld’ by Evile:
Remember what Testament did after Souls Of Black? What happened to Megadeth after Countdown To Extinction? Post-Fabulous Disaster Exodus, anyone? All the lessons are there to be learned. Whilst I have faith in Evile being smart enough not to repeat the mistakes of the past thrash masters, Skull is their 1990/1991 moment (obligatory ballad that goes all heavy very much included…) and what happens next could either catapult them onto a higher plane or ruin them for years to come. Let’s skip the 90s for the next record and jump back in somewhere around The Gathering/Tempo Of The Damned/United Abominations lads, yeah?
Sounds Like: The tail-end of the 80s with better production
Standout Tracks: New Truths Old Lies, Words Of The Dead, The Naked Sun