Evil Drive - The Land of the DeadA study should be done evaluating one’s first impression of an album, a movie, or even an individual; followed-up with a study to determine if that same person’s opinion alters after multiple listens, views, or beers. Most likely the data would provide mixed results. Perhaps you adore a person during your first date, and then loathe them by the third. Perhaps a movie made you sick following the first showing, but adoration grew with each successive view. Every promo to hit my desk receives an initial listen without the reading of websites, promo sheets, or any such fuel that would result in premature judgment. Sometimes absorbing myself in the artwork or the musical theme of the album transforms a mediocre first-listen into something worthwhile. Other times it does not.

I neither loved or hated Evil Drive‘s The Land of the Dead at the first listen. However, the band left me stunned and irritated when I began researching them. The first thing that you should know about this Finnish melodic-death outfit is that those menacing, venom-spitting snarls pouring from your speakers are supplied by one Viktoria Viren. A pleasant surprise, indeed. Viren uses these tough-as-nails growls for most of the album but stuns once more when she counters those barks with soothing cleans on “No Way in the Lie.”

The irritation came when visiting the band’s website and getting a first-glance at the album cover and press photos; with Viren straddling guitars and posing in a wet t-shirt. Sadly, my understanding for the the band’s emotion-soaked music came dangerously close to being annihilated. Viren’s massive vocals and the memorable, and sometimes thrashy, leads of guitarists Ville Wiren and Niko Huusari instill a different kind of image for me. The one the band uses just doesn’t fit. Nevertheless, I ignored the absurd website homepage image and band photos, and pushed on in hopes that Evil Drive‘s debut album would grow on me.

And it did. The more I listened to The Land of the Dead, the more I enjoyed it. “World Cleaners” opens the album properly (after a useless intro of war-themed sound clips) with some convincing thrash-meets-melodeath interplay. Barking as fiercely as the guitars, Viren’s voice crushes skulls like a bloodthirsty panzer tank. Next to closer, “Killer Is Following You,” “World Cleaners” is some of the best material on the album. The closer incorporates a Dark Tranquillity intro, a strong chorus, a clean-guitar interlude, and a melodic build to close out the record beautifully. “War,” “Bullet,” and “Screaming Soul” also use emotional deathisms akin to “Killer;” “Bullet” providing some At the Gates love and “Screaming Soul” flashes some Amon Amarth influences.

Evil Drive - 2016
Unfortunately, those ditties represent the strongest material on The Land of the Dead—to the diehard melodeath aficionados, that’s probably not saying much. “No Way in the Lie” is the black sheep of the album, but the mid-album placement and calming approach, make for an enjoyable listen. As mentioned before, Viren uses her clean pipes to great effect, allowing the oscillating acoustic-guitar intro to penetrate to the bone. Her voice is beautiful yet subtle, and when this track cracks open, she unleashes her hellion growls once again. The song, however, leaves me wishing for something a bit more epic from the band. The title track is perhaps the weakest of them all—quite a shame considering they made a video for it. Overall, the song is boring and the “the land of the dead” pre-chorus follows a lead that is simply annoying; squelching power from the catchy chorus.

Tracing Viren’s vocals along guitar leads on songs like “Bullet,” “War,” and “Killer Is Following You” gives this debut a decent amount of memorability and staying power. The mix and production are respectable (though the latter lacks punch); the bass and drums are present, and the vocals and guitars—unsurprisingly—rule the roost. Fans longing for some scream-at-the-sky melodic death—and are willing to ignore the silly band image and allow the album to grow—ought to find some enjoyment in The Land of the Dead.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Mighty Music
Websites: evildrive.net | facebook.com/evildriveofficial
Releases Worldwide: January 22nd, 2016

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  • spheric666

    let’s start a poll: how many pervs will go to the band’s website to check the wet shirt photo?
    I know I did.

    • Kalsten

      Hello there! :)

    • Dethjesta

      Checking out the bands Website is what I normally do – always – honest!

      • You wot m8?


      • Shangsean

        I haven’t listened to the music yet, though I have spent the last 5 minutes on their website. I accidently clicked Next in the gallery and saw a picture of a dude. I was enjoying the. .. guns. They shouldn’t be mixed up like that.

        Pil & Bue would be outraged.

    • PS-RagE

      Of course! Ya know, if you’re going to post things like that at least there should be a link! ;)

    • William Hebblewhite

      For Science!

  • Wet t-shirt metal is less pervy than baby metal. There. I said it.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Ok, this is going to lead into bad territories…

  • That’s really impressive. Best female death vocals I’ve heard since Stevie Flyod from Dark Castle.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      She does a great job. I really enjoy the vocals on this album.

  • Siege Bantayan

    The vocals kinda hit me like a grittier Cara McCutchen (of Mortillery fame). Good stuff!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      There are some similarities. Even if there weren’t, introducing me to Mortillery has made my day. “F.O.A.D.” is now my official entrance music.

      • You didn’t read my reviews of them? For shame!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I actually just did before you commented! Fucking gold.

  • Wilhelm

    Another Arch Enemy pretty young female, acting tough with guns and singing with a growl gimmick – it sounds like shit. I’ve heard it done very few times and it’s a shame because the music is not bad. Well at least she’s half naked, so that’s sure to sell a copy or two.

    • Pretty sure you’re just being a troll but ok please inform us of these female growls you think are so much better.

      • Wilhelm

        I don’t troll…to answer your question, they are few and far between – Mythic, Opera IX and, Acrostichon come to mind as some quality ones.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Old Opera IX is classic. Sacro Culto and the Black Opera are great albums.

          • Wilhelm

            Agreed, they just hired a new female singer (not Cadevaria) and released an EP of early Opera IX re-recordings. Too bad it has terrible mastering and sucked the magic from the compositions but the new woman is competent.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I didn’t even realize. I wrote that band off after Cadaveria left (but sadly can’t listen to anything she’s done since). I will have to check out this EP. That sucks about the mastering.

        • I will check them out.

          I understand that this band is relying on sex and violence as a theme and that comes off as trite, but that’s also classic metal. I don’t see why a woman can’t be involved. This doesn’t have to be a boys club.

          • Wilhelm

            Women can be involved. in fact I wish more females were playing or singing in metal bands (as well as minorities, in America/Europe at least) but there’s ways to show you’re a women other than flashing your tits around. What I get from this band is cheap T&A, it’s not erotic, sexy, provocative just trashy and gimmicky. Musically the band is tight, but I don’t think she’s a good vocalist at all – She probably derives her influence from Angela Gossow, who was equally as bad.

          • Yeah I understand what you’re saying but I can’t help but think that applies to most if not all metal bands equally. Scorpion’s album covers were always in bad taste. Bolt Thrower used a warhammer gimmick. Glory Hammer is essentially nothing but a gimmick. I don’t think this band is taking itself seriously, so I don’t get offended by it. If all metal took itself as seriously as Mayhem did in the early 90s… well then they’d probably all be dead or in prison.

        • Having now listened to the above mentioned bands this is clearly a taste issue. I can’t for the life of me see how you’d think Mythic is better. It’s like listening to a muppet. To each her own I suppose.

          • Wilhelm

            Raw, ugly, vocals are what pretty much what defined extreme metal in the early days. In today’s metal its really about playing it safe, refining and making your music/vocal style accessible for anyone to listen to. It’s not supposed to be perfect – with a few exceptions, metal has lost it’s edge.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    This is catchy, it’s kind of strange watching her sing and hearing the vocals. The clip is good. The end of the video reminds me of a classic Australian folk story called The Loaded Dog.

  • Hot Topic kids here comes Arch Enemys next big competitor. Yuck.

  • Vice-President of Hell

    \receives an initial listen without the reading of websites, promo sheets, or any such fuel that would result in premature judgment. \

    put yer hand at the bible (or necronomicon, or whatnot) and swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about reviewed bands

  • Enrico Pallazzo

    3:17 Mr Crowley rip off

  • Joshua Walker

    I just listened to the whole album, and I liked it more than I thought I would. Thanks for the review. This MIGHT have potential for an honorable mention in my 2016 end of the year list. Need to give it several more listens, but so far so good.