Five Serpent’s Teeth
The new wave of thrash has reached its apex. Such was its love affair with the first wave, it was bound to reach a crescendo fairly quickly, and so it has proved. For some, it came and went too quickly; some still stuck in the 80’s simply didn’t deliver, some didn’t get the credit they deserved, and a few seized upon the thrash ball and ran with it, to reap the rewards for simple awesomeness or for daring to bring the genre up to date. That paragraph is, as a mega thrash fan, equal parts heartbreaking, true and triumphant.
Evile certainly fall in the latter camp. I feel priviledged to have seen them in Huddersfield during their unsigned days because to have watched their rise into the metal stratosphere bestows a feeling of pride and awe. Having tracked them from the ‘All Hallows Eve‘ EP through to 2009’s ‘Infected Nations‘, I was certainly looking forward to the next step in their career, although admittedly with quiet optimism, as I found ‘Infected Nations‘ to be a bit of a grower. I needn’t have been so cautious.
Whereas they hinted towards a move away from thrash on the previous record, ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth‘ sees Evile fully reembrace the thrash spirit with added groove and dynamic. The ten songs here are among the finest you’ll find anywhere all year. The proof is in the pudding – the opening salvo of the title track and ‘In Dreams of Terror’ attack and strike with razor-sharp precision, the latter in particular possessing quite the shred. Straight away you’ll also notice vocalist Matt Drake’s increased vocal prowess, an instant sign of the work gone into making this record.
Lead single ‘Cult’ slows down the pace to a midpaced groove. A stab at organized religion, Matt Drake’s wider vocal range really makes this song possible. It’s accessible but without sacrificing any verve – it’s hard not to sing along to the chorus of “all we ask is that you join our…cult!”, before rocking out to the main riff the next. It’s an anthem in the making. Collectively, they’ve fully harnessed the slower grooves and become a much more intelligent beast. The album continues to excel as it continues, the progressive angle of ‘Xaraya’, which gradually builds over the course of the song, culminating in another searing guitar solo from lead guitarist Ol Drake, and ‘Origin of Oblivion’, one of the finest all out thrash songs of the resurgence, charging through out before hitting a slightly slower groove at the end to the defiant shout of “I will not become machine!”
Proof of the elevated maturity of the band is evident particularly as the album reaches its climax. After the ripping assault of the first seven songs, ‘In Memoriam’ is a largely acoustic number throughout, featuring the Drake brothers’ father, and ex-Pilgrym guitarist Tony, and a fitting epitaph for their former, late bassist Mike Alexander. The bass riff is one he frequently played during rehearsals and feels extremely poignant. No doubt Mike’s death hurt Evile, but equally no doubt it strengthened them as a band.
The album closes with two more knuckle-grinding thrash numbers, and its ‘Descent Into Madness’ that particularly stands out. If this was Bay Area in the 80’s, it’d be held as a classic, cos the first half if an absolute rager. It gets really interesting when bassist Joel Graham, on record with Evile for the first time, gets the spotlight with a little bass solo to finish the song. It obviously owes to Cliff Burton but its bloody great to see.
Expectations were certainly high for this album and not only. have Evile met them, they’ve blown.them out of the water. Naysayers will still argue there’s too much Metallica influence, but that’s negligible. Hand on heart, if this had been the 80’s we’d be hailing this as a genre classic – it certainly has that feel about it, such is the quality of the material. Let’s ensure that in 2036 we’re still talking about this album. I also make no apologies for labelling ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth‘ a thrashterpiece. Because any album you can’t fault despite several listens has got to be worth the recognition.