Evile – “Hell Unleashed” (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
At one point spearheading the British thrash movement during the millennium years, Evile were as well known to fans as they were to other bands, having supported Machine Head, Satyricon, Overkill, Vader in addition to playing Hellfest, Sonisphere, Wacken and being a staple at Bloodstock Open Air. While the band have endured many line-up changes over the years, leaving co-founder drummer Ben Carter as the only constant member, Evile have shown remarkable resilience since their birth in 2004. Indeed, following the departure of co-founder rhythm guitarist / lead vocalist Matt Drake last year, in has stepped his brother Oli as lead guitarist / lead vocalist while announcing a new member in Adam Smith (RipTide) as rhythm guitarist on this 5th studio release. Marking the longest gap between albums, the line-up isn’t the only change with the 9 tracks showing an intentionally more aggressive style reminiscent of the band’s inspirations of 90s death thrash bands like Sepultura as well as Evil Chuck Schuldiner (Death) in Oli’s vocal style. Working with Chris Clancy (Machine Head, Kataklysm, Ex Deo etc) instead of long-term Evile producer Russ Russell, the sound definitely allows the powering grooves and slow headbanging passages to be fully felt, while the emphasis of catchy hooks and melodies all superbly arranged doesn’t detract from Evile’s trademark of blurring thrash. Riff whirring in on ‘Gore’ (featuring American stand-up comedian, actor, voice actor, musician and writer Brian Posehn) to a chopping beat, Oli’s old school roar mixes in beautifully to a gargantuan sound of the apocalypse, slickly alternating from high speed thrash to slow grinding death as the guitars wail and squeal insanely – awesome! Razor riffing in menacingly on ‘Incarcerated’, the dark brooding atmosphere builds slowly before exploding with pulverising drums and then chugging off without any let up in its rhythmic energy as Oli hoarsely drawls in contemplation of the guitars howling and wailing like a victim being snared by a stalking predator – brilliant. With plenty of dancing melodies contrasting with catchy power thrash riffs on ‘Control From Above’ along with Carter’s double bass precision beats, Evile show their prowess in impressively combining a number of death thrash styles on this number through exotic lead breaks, melancholic funeral death solos and diddly dee tremolo insanity as Oli spits, roars and growls on this impressive album that works a treat in giving the old school a modern facelift.