Album Review: Evile – Skull
One of the biggest draws to Evile, for me, was the similar style to many of the early Bay Area Thrash metal bands. Evile is raw, gritty, uncompromising, and uncomplicated. Five Serpent’s Teeth, their third studio album, saw a level of maturation that I thought was going to lead the band in a very different direction; one I didn’t want to hear. The album charted well in the U.S. which typically means…it’s not that heavy and your Mom might like it. For Example, I thought Evile would go the same direction that robbed Five Finger Death Punch of their aggression in favor of bright lights and bikini bimbos. Evile, instead, pulled from the lessons learned on Five Serpent’s Teeth, and meshed those fine-tuned riffs with the more unrefined edge of Infected Nations and Enter the Grave. What we are left with is a solid Evile album that I do want to hear. But is album #4, Skull, perfect?
The album immediately kicks things into overdrive with Underworld. The riffing is a very simple, fast, and rhythmic style that encourages circle pits to form like budding EF-5 tornadoes. The solos nearer to the end of the song are artistic and perfectly styled for thrash; something the Drake brothers are very talented at. Not a bad start at all. Skull continues with the same level of aggression along with The Naked Sun, and the headbanging Head of the Demon. Tomb is a 7+ minute track that incorporates many different elements and seems to be lost rather than anchor the album. I like the song, but it goes from a mellow intro, builds up, and goes back again. I felt it was going to crescendo to something more brutal, but it left me hanging…waiting.
Words of the Dead regained some of the fire extinguished at Tomb and alternated between speedy riffs and more headbanging suggestive of their song Cult of Five Serpent’s Teeth. When the riffs kicked in for Outsider, it immediately brought me back to their “built for the pit” song Thrasher off the album Enter the Grave. Nothing wrong with that, Thrasher is one of my favorite Evile songs. Outsider went over well with me, but for the sake of musical progression this is a recycled Evile song…that will probably make my next workout playlist. If there is one song on the album to be more radio friendly it’s What Would Become. It’s definitely catchy and heavy, speed set aside for groove. The last track minus bonus tracks is New Truth, Old Lies. It’s the other long song of the album and achieves what Tomb didn’t. It went from another mellow intro and elevated to a speedier and aggressive tempo, insert guitar solos, and you have a long song worthy of listening to the whole thing.
One thing I want to discuss before I close this piece out is Evile’s similarity to Metallica. It’s no secret the Evile derives much of influence from Metallica albums during Master of Puppets to the Black album years. When you listen to Skull, you will be reminded of some of those influential Metallica songs. I think this is an aspect of being in a band…you tend to sound like those you admire. Evile is no exception and if you have never heard Evile before, you should go into it knowing this in case that kind of thing is a hang-up for you. For long time fans, this should be another solid Evile album for you. It’s aggressive and melodic. And, some of the tracks on Skull will remind you of some of their older material.
After their success with Five Serpent’s Teeth, Evile could have easily taken the more easily traveled path to success with cookie-cutter Hard Rock songs like some other bands have done, namely the one mentioned above. Instead, Skull regains some of the raw aggression we were first introduced to on their first two albums which is the strong point of Skull. There are some seriously speedy and energetic tracks that a fun to listen to. The downside is that their admiration for Metallica tends to bleed a bit too much into their own songwriting. Sure, there are worse bands to model after, but after four albums Evile is still in their comfort zone.