Evile //Five Serpent’s Teeth
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —Fresh from the Department of Redundancy Dept.
Label: Earache Records
Websites: evile.co.uk/theBand/ | myspace.com/evileuk
Release Dates: EU: 26.09.2011 | US: 10.18.2011
My, how times and tastes change. When I first signed on as a newbie writer for Angry Metal Guy Industries, I was happy and content with all the musical trends in the metalsphere (save anything core, of course). Now, a scant year and a half later, I’m pretty much burned out on black metal and I’m even getting weary of my (formerly) beloved retro-thrash wave. At this point, the trend feels beaten back to life then back to death again. While a few of the recent thrash releases stood out (Toxic Holocaust for one), as a rule the scene feels tired and old like it did toward the end of the original wave. That brings us to the U.K.’s Evile. Their 2007 release Enter the Grave was a nice shot in the arm of vintage thrash but their follow-up Infected Nations took on too much of a progressive mid-period Metallica vibe and bored more bashed (although AMG dug it well enough). I was hopeful they would return to their more aggressive style on Five Serpent’s Teeth and while they did, this ended up too generic and unoriginal to really get me worked up into a thrashy lather. However, its undeniably well-executed, generally engaging speed with enough technical ability to impress and a few standout cuts.
The opening title track is an aggressive stomper and clearly isn’t lacking in energy. It has more than its share of storming thrash riffs akin to my beloved Wargasm paired with In Flames-esque leads and solos but something about it results in a disconnect for me. I want to like it but feel cold and distant toward it. Other songs like “Cult,” “Xaraya” and “Centurion” are straight-forward thrash but throw in interesting harmonies and excellent guitar solos (check out “Xaraya” at 3:50) and engage the listener. Others like “In Dreams of Terror,” “Eternal Empire” and “Long Live the New Flesh” feel generic and tedious and don’t hold my attention. Power-ballad “In Memoriam” has a huge Metallica influence, from the guitar phraseology to the Hetfieldy vocals (its so close to something off the Black Album, it’s nearly a cover song) but it works fairly well and the emotional guitar-work is an album high point. The rest of the songs either fall into the “entertaining but unoriginal” or “generic and not too entertaining” baskets. Fortunately, the balance falls in the entertaining bin and more songs work than don’t.
The saving grace for much of Five Serpent’s is the guitar-work of brothers-o-metal Ol and Matt Drake. While most of the riffing is standard-issue thrash that you’ve heard elsewhere since 1983′, they do it with enough conviction and heart to put it over. Where they really shine is in the solo department. They clearly have chops and some of their lead-work is beautiful and classy-as-fuck. Vocally, Matt Drake has been labelled a Hetfield clone and there are some similarities but here, he tends to sound more like Bob Mayo (Wargasm). His delivery and tone is tougher than Hetfield’s and that usually helps retain the heavy factor even when they move into mid-paced tempos. He’s not the best vocalist out there but he gets it done. Together, Evile sounds tight and proficient musically but the songwriting doesn’t always keep up with the technical flair.
The production is a typically overblown, overly clean, modern one and although the guitars sound big and beefy, the sterile sound takes away much of the edge and danger thrash should have. It has the same sound as many recent metalcore/modern metal releases and while that doesn’t completely ruin the impact, it isn’t helping much either.
Between the sound, sometimes generic songwriting and the oversaturation of retro-thrash, this just doesn’t have a real wow factor for me. In all fairness, this late in the game, only the very best thrash releases can standout and avoid a feeling of malaise and been-there-got-the-Slayer-shirt. Evile was never a top dog in the genre IMHO and this release doesn’t elevate them there. Its decent, solid thrash and you can tell they mean it, but its been done, and done. I would recommend tracking down the old Wargasm albums instead but if you want new thrash, Evile is the lesser of other retro evils out there.