Five Serpent's Teeth
posted on 9/2011 By:
The thrash metal community has placed a lot of stock in Evile, and for good reason. This assemblage of Brits is tirelessly working to revive the genre, and they’ve done a hell of a job with their three studio albums. For those familiar with their previous work, the new material on Five Serpent’s Teeth is in the same vein of time-honored bands such as Testament, Annihilator, and Pantera, but with a death metal edge. With this latest record, Evile occasionally pushes into darker territory, but for the most part sticks to their aggressive and up-tempo principles.
Opening with the title track, Evile’s classic thrash influences are made evident immediately. I was instantly reminded of early Metallica due to the song structure, atmosphere, and Matt Drake’s ‘Hetfield-esque’ vocal approach. However, the similarities to that particular band are not as prevalent as one may assume. The drumming, for example, is far more impressive and spirited than Lars Ulrich’s, and the production is clean and bright (perhaps to the detriment of the ‘thrash’ ideal). In keeping with tradition, the guitar work is elaborate, dramatic, and high in the mix, taking center stage during the vast majority of the ten tracks. Ol Drake’s solos aren’t always the most tasteful, but they’re certainly shreddy as hell and sure to inspire many a bastardized YouTube cover attempt.
While they’re not straying too far from their tried and true path, Evile has made some marked improvements since 2009’s Infection Nations. The vocals are better executed, and the songwriting has become more unique and memorable. Evile doesn’t take any huge thematic risks as far as lyrics are concerned (then again, why would they?), but the raw energy and power is omnipresent. The band is demonstrating a heightened maturity and confidence in their sound, and while Evile makes no effort to mask their Big 4 influences, they’ve been integrated in such a way that one could never rightly accuse the group of cheap imitation. “Memoriam”, an exceptionally well-written and touching tribute to Evile’s late bass player, Mike Alexander, breaks the thrash mold for six minutes and illuminates the band’s compositional versatility. It would’ve been easy enough to rip off “Cemetery Gates”, but this track possesses a haunting sadness all its own.
Evile is a band with a tight, defined sound and a whole lot of heart. While most tracks are steeped in tradition, the music never stagnates into something hackneyed (as long as you don’t think thrash itself is generic, of course). The fairly straight-ahead “Cult” is strengthened by excellent harmonized vocals and a fantastic outro. “Descent Into Madness” is a relentlessly high-speed headbanger’s dream with enough variation to keep things compelling. Closing with “Long Live New Flesh”, Evile concludes the album on a high note (both literally and figuratively). Connoisseurs of the genre will likely greet Five Serpent’s Teeth with open ears, and the record may even convert a few hesitant listeners into full-on fans. The album isn't exactly revolutionizing thrash, but it's a revitalizing contribution to the established library. In a time where so many metal bands seem to take themselves far too seriously, Evile is a reminder that technical ability does not always have to be paired with an air of pretension.
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