Against Evil - All Hail the King - (7.5/10)
Published on April 17, 2018
India isn’t exactly known as a haven for heavy metal. Sure, there are bands from nearly every corner of the world, but I can safely say that after years of tracking down obscure heavy metal that I have never once heard an Indian heavy metal band. Until now. There is always a strong curiosity that wells up inside me when I encounter heavy metal bands outside of Europe and the Americas, mostly to do with how each band handles their own native influences whilst playing a genre of music that originated in a very different place. Against Evil completely surprised me: they are lovers of traditional heavy metal, played true to the classics, and full of all the energy and pomp you would expect from a band that started in the heart of England.
There weren’t any really clear influences that I could spot right away, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say that they probably listened to a lot of eighties-era Priest, Manowar, and Mercyful Fate. But the truth is that none of those bands come out too strongly here. They play a bit faster than Priest, they are a bit more restrained than Manowar, and the riffs are probably less jagged than those of Fate, but you can still feel each of those bands strongly enough even on the first listen. The album opener (after the instrumental intro) has a nice balance of all three of those influences, with the most obvious being Manowar with the thudding bass and epic vocal lines that fill the song.
The riffing on this album is nothing that will blow you away. It’s basic; it’s straightforward; it’s traditional. But still, it is just so solid in its execution that I couldn’t help but enjoy hearing how each of the songs were crafted and delivered. Song after song, they just deliver riff after riff. After several listens, I realised that maybe this wasn’t my favourite album in the world, but nevertheless it was constructed well enough that I couldn’t actually point to any glaring flaws. Each time through, I found myself looking forward to certain transitions or choruses, or the occasional ripping guitar solo.
And that last point brings me to the curious inclusion of Jeff Loomis on the “Sentenced to Death” track. I mean, I love guitar heroics. I cut my teeth on Yngwie Malmsteen as a teenage boy in the early nineties, so you don’t have to convince me of the greatness of shredders. What baffles me is that Jeff Loomis isn’t needed here. Sure, his solo is amazing. I’ll just go ahead and say that it’s perfect. But it’s not needed – the lead guitarist is perfectly capable of his own amazing lead work and nearly every other track demonstrates this. But hey, if I ever record a heavy metal album, I’m not going to turn down Jeff Loomis if he offers to record a solo for me.
Against Evil aren’t likely to blow anybody away with originality, but they are good at what they do and that counts for a lot more than vapid novelty to me. They have recorded an album that is true to the classics and is likely to strike a chord with fans of Judas Priest and Manowar. They have an uncanny knack for crafting songs and getting your head to move, and I don’t know about you, but for me, most of the time that is just what the doctor ordered.