Written by Alex Stojanovic
War Of Attrition
The Thing (1982)
Zombie Apocalypse (Mortician cover)
Control From Above
Release Date: April 30, 2021
Label: Napalm Records
Ol Drake - Vocals & lead guitars / Ben Carter - Drums / Joel Graham - Bass / Adam Smith - Rhythm guitars
In 2011, they released their third album Five Serpent's Teeth (their best album in my opinion), and toured around the U.K and Europe over the next year. With the release of their fourth album Skull in 2013, this is where things started slowing down for Evile. After a few shows in support of Skull, Ol Drake left the band, and the band began a year-long search for a worthy replacement. Finding a guy to fill the shoes that Ol left behind wasn't easy due to the caliber of musician that Ol is. In 2014, Piers Donner-Fuller was announced as the new lead guitarist, and the band began work on what would be their fifth album, all while playing sporatic shows around Europe over the next four years. Due to all the band members' full-time day jobs, family commitments, and the cutting of ties with Earache Records, writing for the new album proved to be a very slow process. In 2018, Piers left the band due to personal reasons, and Ol returned to the band.
It wasn't until 2020 when the biggest lineup change happened, which was Matt Drake leaving the band due to health issues, family reasons, and his love for playing music disappearing. The remaining members then recruited Adam Smith of RipTide as their new rhythm guitarist, and Ol stepped up to the frontman position while still retaining his role as lead guitarist. It was at this time that writing for the new album was finally complete. With a new deal with Napalm Records, they entered the studio to begin recording it, and after 8 long years, the new album Hell Unleashed is finally ready to be unleashed. As I mentioned many times before, Evile were a huge part of the soundtrack to my college days from 2010 to 2013. It was quite a surprise when they announce that Matt left the band. I did have some curiosity as to how they would sound without Matt on vocals. While Ol does a pretty decent job on vocals with his more aggressive approach (more on that later), I'm still going to miss Matt's voice. Regardless of whose vocals sound better, it just feels good to have Evile back after a long wait for new music.
Getting into the album, opener "Paralysed" wastes no time and jumps head first into a whirlwind of menacing thrash riffs. While a great tune, I think it would've had more of an impact if "Paralysed" had switched places with "Gore", because I love how the slow, eerie build-up sets the table before it explodes into thrash territory. "Gore" also features Brian Posehn roaring the title in the chorus, just like he did with "Cult" on Five Serpent's Teeth. "Incarcerated" is the most dynamic track going through many different mood, tempo and time signature changes. With its progressive vibes, it feels like an outtake from Infected Nations, and that's not a bad thing, and it's probably my favourite track. You have to give it to drummer Ben Carter, because the man pushes his speed abilities to the limit. He seems like a blend of Gene Hoglan and Paul Mazurkiewicz.
As we continue down the album, tracks like "War Of Attrition", "Disorder" and "Control From Above" tend to stick to brass tacks, with straightforward tremolo-picked and chugging riffs. The lack of dynamic riffing styles makes these tracks hit or miss, however Joel Graham has a pretty mean bass intro on "Control From Above". When it comes to Ol's vocals, you can hear some hints of some classic Max Cavalera, and they fit very well with the riffs and mean tone. If you've been a fan of Evile since Enter The Grave, you'll know that they've written songs inspired by movies, and they return to that theme here with "The Thing (1982)". They are also no strangers to cover songs, having done several in the past, but they never included one on an official studio album. For this album, they decided to cover Mortician's classic "Zombie Apocalypse".
So, what's the verdict? Well, this is obviously a new beginning for Evile. A new solid lineup, Ol taking the lead vocal position, new record, new label, all after 8 long years since the release of Skull. That being said, it made sense for them to go back to basics, which is a reason why Hell Unleashed compares more with Enter The Grave than the other albums. As I've said many times; I've always been a fan of dynamics and diversity. There's a reason why Five Serpent's Teeth is my favourite Evile album, and Enter The Grave is my least favourite. To summarize my listening experience with Hell Unleashed, let's just say that I got pretty much what I was expecting, so it was kind of predictable. Even if the album is on the straightforward and predictable side, it's still a real solid thrash album that is really well produced, aggressive, and a great return for Evile after 8 long years. I look forward to seeing what the band has up their sleeve for future albums, and seeing them live when they come back to Canada.
Highs: "Paralysed", "Gore", "Incarcerated" and "Hell Unleashed".
Lows: Several of the riffs are very cookie-cutter thrash riffs.
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