So as ever with thrash, Evile arrive at album number four perhaps slightly aware that retreading their now familiar thrash patterns might see them labelled as stale, uninnovative, rehashing, etc, like some of their compadres have fallen prey to. Still, they’ve played a smart game to emerge from the streets of Huddersfield to the head of the new thrash pack. But here on ‘Skull‘, while still following their original template, Evile seems to have arrived at a fork in the road – the longer, progressive hilt or the shorter, slightly groovier strut. Seemingly stuck in the middle, the beast has grown another head it seems to cope with this conundrum and thus makes for the most interesting Evile album to date.
On the one hand, Evile seems to be extending their hand to more complex regions, with select songs here displaying the band’s ever-growing maturity. ‘Underworld’ is a straight-up head down thrasher, but the title-track that follows rips through several different riffs, grooves, beats and solos over its course. ‘Tomb’ is perhaps the album’s highlight – yes, it’s a ballad of sorts, but it’s a very well-executed one, building up to a beautiful solo from Ol Drake, whose own status as a shred lord seems to be growing by the minute and here its very easy to see why. On the other hand, the Huddersfield crew are getting accustomed to slower, punchier numbers too. This follows a pattern that greats like Metallica, Slayer, and Sepultura set – thrashing hard for their first few releases before ushering in a more methodical approach. ‘Head of the Demon’ doesn’t feel like anything particularly special, but elsewhere the band get this new-found approach right – ‘What You’ve Become’ is a bit of a headturner, a simple riff and catchy lyrics – tell me you’re not singing ‘Close your eyes/surrender…’ within minutes of hearing this song.
Now that Evile have achieved the trick of making four largely excellent albums, the task now is not to fall into the same trap many of their peers have fallen into. There’s no problem with changing tack a little, as nobody likes to become staid. But that pattern I discussed a little earlier can be as poisonous as it is fortuitous. Let them be learned of the lessons of the past. I’m confident of this and while I’m still on the fence as to exactly where I rank this album amongst Evile’s discography to date, it’s a well worthy addition to anyone’s library and easily the most diverse and accessible offering yet.
Evile – Tomb