Friday, August 30, 2013

Evile - Skull

2013 has been a pretty big year for thrash metal. A lot of albums are being released and a lot of new bands are popping up. Bands like Mental Devastation, Lost Society, Annihilator, Sodom, Blood Tsunami, Farscape, Diamond Plate, Atomic Head, Lord Dying, Invasion, Rotten State, Megadeth, Havok, Warbeast, Gama Bomb, and countless other thrash metal bands have released albums this year. Some of them, unfortunately, have been terrible. Most of them have been in the mediocre area. But a few (only a few), such as Havok and Blood Tsunami, have been fucking fantastic. Well, someone on Twitter recommended that I check out Evile, a new-ish thrash metal band. I’ve been hearing about these guys quite a bit around the net and at concerts, but I haven’t bothered giving them a listen until that someone gave me a link to their new album. Well, it’s time to add Evile to that “fucking fantastic” thrash bands of 2013 because their newest album, Skull, is definitely taking the cake to be the thrash album of the year.

But honestly, what makes this new Evile album any different from all the other underground thrash records being released right now? Isn’t it just going to be another record with tremolo picking, fast guitars, blast beats, fast punk-style drum patterns, and epic shredding solos? The answer to that question would be yes, but there is a hell of a fucking lot more to it than just that. There are a few qualities about these guys that make them sound a thousand times better. Not just because they’re unique qualities, but because they’re done RIGHT. The first thing that these guys have that every good thrash band needs is energy.

Energy is more important than anything in this style of music. In order to create the most energy possible, there are several things that need to be done. The biggest thing that will kill the energy in any thrash album for me is when it’s all one speed or style. If it’s all blast beats and tremolo picking with little to no breakdowns or tempo changes, it’s boring. If it’s only hardcore punk-style drumming and chugging riffs, it gets old very fast. Evile implements EVERYTHING into their music. Everything from blasting speed to crunchy breakdowns to melodic parts with singing can be heard on this very record. But it’s not just that, they also know how to perfectly time everything. They never drag anything out; Evile changes tempo at the perfect times and in the perfect ways. Evile prove that they have mastered the art of keeping the music interesting and engaging by frequently changing the mood and speed of the song. And in the process, this has made every single track memorable and unique.

While we’re still on the topic of frequent stylistic and tempo changes, the drummer is the member we should be paying attention to. The second biggest issue that I have with a lot of thrash metal is that the drummers tend to pick one or two patterns and just stick to that. They don’t ever feel the need to try something different or new, they just stick to those few drum patterns and it gets very irritating and boring. Along with exceptional instrumental skill, the drummer that you hear on Skull is one that needs to be appreciated because THIS, THIS RIGHT HERE IS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED. This guy does EVERYTHING right! I’m not even going to get into how he never screws up or anything because although that’s important, he has everything that even the better than average thrash drummers don’t have. His tightness is tungsten-solid, his creativity is amazing, and he keeps the music interesting.

The guitarists do a great job of following the drums, but not too closely. Their riffs weave around whatever the drummer is doing greatly. I wouldn’t say perfectly, because some of what they do is a little too predictable and can be a little bit goofy. But seriously, they don’t overdo anything. There isn’t too much tremolo picking, there’s just the perfect amount of solos, and along with the drums, they change styles and melodies dramatically. The solos tend to differentiate from each other, which might be because the guitarists are taking turns (I can’t know for sure unless I go into deep research about the specifics of the album). Some of them are crazy Slayer-style shredding while some of them are tamer and have a lot more melody and color.

There is one issue I’m having with this album. If I could have just a little more bass, we would be set to go. And although this is adding up to be the best thrash album of the year (so far), this is one little issue that I can’t leave unmentioned because those random bass fills are very important in keeping the groove going (i.e. Overkill, Exodus, Venom, etc.). The vocals are also one of the much more unique traits of this band.

Their vocalist has a deep voice; which if you haven’t already realized, is NOT common in thrash metal. The number of thrash vocalists with unusually high-pitched vocals is a bit staggering. I don’t know if it’s something that’s done on purpose, but there needs to be more variety. Well, one of the guitarists does the vocals on this new Evile album, and it’s very refreshing to hear a deeper voice. The tone of his yells is strong and full of energy. His possibly Metallica-influenced singing is always on key and the harmonizing sounds awesome. So the uniqueness of the vocals really adds a lot to the uniqueness of this record.

Skull is a fantastic album. At this moment, I haven’t really heard anything else by these idiots, but this is certainly one hell of a first impression and I’m glad that I decided to look this up. If you’re a fan of thrash metal, you NEED to look this up because this is an album crafted to impress even the strictest of elitists. Although there are some things I would change about Skull and that some of the amazing things aren’t absolutely mind-blowing, I would give this a near-perfect score of 18/20. Mainly because although this is a fantastic record, I haven’t found myself going back to it again and again, so there really isn’t much about it that I would call “memorable”. But regardless, this needs to be fucking heard!