Evil Drive – Demons Within Review

Well, the female-front beast that is Evil Drive is back. Like I’ve stated in previous reviews, Arch Enemy probably comes to mind the most. That said, the band has tried to incorporate more than meets the ears. I’m not gonna say this Finnish Five-some has solved the problem and released something special. Not quite, but at least there’s a little more variety on this new release. Or, maybe it’s that it seems like the band has finally started taking their music seriously. They’ve come a long way since 2016’s The Land of the Dead. Though not original in the least, the band has worked hard on their songwriting, their image, and Viren’s vocals get better with each release. Though 2018’s Ragemaker was a stepdown from the debut in quality, they’ve proved they can turn things around. Demons Within is the result of buckling down and working harder for better material. With a new rhythm section in tow, Evil Drive is here to bring on the melodeaths. 

After door creaks and gravel footfalls, “Payback” comes at you with more ferocity than Richard Stark’s The Hunter. Like most of the band’s material, the choruses are the highlight—usually unleashing melodies and emotion. In the case of “Payback,” the chorus has similar qualities to DevilDriver, like “Bringer of Darkness.” The difference being that “Bringer of Darkness” has a better chance of finding a home on The Last Kind Words. It may sound like I’m bashing, but I’m not. It’s the vibe.1  On the flip-side, there are other tracks with different melodeath influences. While “Breaking the Chains” has plenty o’ Arch Enemy sound, the Amon Amarth influences are strong. The band also dives into Children of Bodom-core on the nifty “Too Wild to Live Too Rare to Die.” Which, oddly enough, reads like a title the late Wild Child might use.

The back-to-back “Demons Within” and “Rising From the Revenge” fill the void with the traditional stuff. Both are classic melodic death pieces Viren sinks her teeth into. Like “Breaking the Chains,” it’s nothing but melodic choruses and just the right amount of umph to get your head moving. But nothing builds like “Lord of Chaos’ and closer “Ghost Dimension.” I wouldn’t call them spectacular pieces, but the closer is one of the band’s best. Both pulse with suspense, climbing to the bitter end. The first is more sinister than the rest of the album, but it breaks from its initial riff, transitioning into a strong chorus and ascent. The closer is even bigger—with a catchy chorus, smooth flow, and pleasant delivery. The Land of the Dead’s closer, “Killer Is Following You,” was the highlight of that album for me. And, like the debut, Demon Within’s closer is my favorite on the disc.

Even with some decent tracks, Demons Within feels like it’s missing something. Many may feel the album is too formulaic. For me, a lot of it has to do with the odd things throughout the album. One is the band’s uncontrollable urge to have a song that Viren sings clean. Don’t get me wrong, her cleans are great. The band just can’t seem to find a balance between her voice and the stuff they wanna play. “In the End” is close, but it also means she barely sings clean on the song. The other thing that gets to me is the solo work. Not because it’s bad. Not at all, actually. But a thrashy solo in the midst of the melodic stuff is somewhat jarring. Lastly, while the DevilDriver B-side, “Bringer of Darkness,” is one of the better headbangers on the record, it stands out like a sore thumb.

In the end, Evil Drive is back where they started—at least in Grier score. But, for all the bashing, they’re coming along, and I can’t help but keep rooting for them. It’s hard to explain until you’ve picked up a record you wanted to hate and, five years later, you’re still reviewing them. At this rate, they’ll never land a top ten for my grumpy ass, but I’m more pleased with this output than I’ve been with any of their other stuff. Evil Drive might be the ugly duckling of the Finnish melodeath scene, but that’s not a bad thing. Maybe, one day, that ugly duck will truly be one of a kind.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Reaper Entertainment
Websites: evildrive.band | facebook.com/evildriveofficial
Releases Worldwide: April 2nd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. I mean, for fuck’s sake, DevilDriver. Come on.
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