Review Summary: Groundhog day...
Evile made a strong impression with their debut album ‘Enter the Grave’, helping the ‘New Wave’ of thrash bands to drive forward with force and hit listeners in the face with 80’s style furiosity entwined with crisp, modern day production. Yes, when this album was released, the resurrected sound of bands such as Slayer and Metallica was all rather exciting. The question is, does this all still apply right here in 2013?
The answer is no. ‘Skull’ is Evile’s fourth studio album, and although there are moments of joy to be found in some places here, ‘Skull’ is, for the most part, a recycled version of the Huddersfield quartet’s previous three albums.
This is not to say that Skull is a bad album. For instance, the riffs are still heavy and catchy, which Evile have developed a real knack for over the years. The lead-work from Ol Drake is still superb, and really stands out in songs such as ‘Tomb’. The drums are still rapid and furious, and complement the rest of the instruments very well.
However, there is nothing about this album that would make you want to listen to it over ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’; just as there was nothing about Five Serpent’s Teeth that would make you want to listen to it over ‘Infected Nations’ and so on and so forth. Evile have found a niche, that’s for sure, but they appear to be too apprehensive with exploring other avenues.
One feature (and perhaps the most crucial one) of their previous albums which still applies to Skull is that by the time the fourth or fifth song comes around, the listener finds themselves wanting the album to end. This record is about fifty minutes long, but could have quite easily been cut short by ten minutes and still be as good, if not better. The album remains woefully stagnant, and the only real stand-out track is the aforementioned ‘Tomb’. The fact that I have had to mention that song twice in this review is a real testament to the fact that most of the songs are painfully average and uninspiring.
There has been at least a fragment of change from previous outings. The riffs have become more melodic and songs include a few melodic choruses, which are easy to sing along to (although this isn’t always a positive, as the melodies can come off as cheesy at times), and Matt Drake’s vocals have definitely improved since Five Serpent’s Teeth, with more range being added to complement the melodic choruses.
In the end though, ‘Skull’ is just another Evile album, and that’s all there is to it. There are no obvious standouts, a limited amount of changes from previous albums, and perhaps most essentially, not a lot to separate Evile out from the rest of the thrash bands of the now, and of the past. Evile have been caught out with Skull, and if their music carries on in this direction, they will surely stagnate into a mere ghost of what they once were.