In 2007, EVILE came out of nowhere and released one of the best Thrash albums in the last decade with “Enter The Grave”. It was full hearted throwback Thrash that took what was great about Thrash on its first way around and gave it a modern day turn and twist. It was fast. It was chaotic without losing the structure. It was damn near perfect. So how would a band like EVILE try to even match up with the hype and success of their debut album for their sophomore effort? The answer for this lies in “Infected Nations” the latest slab of Thrash from the British heirs to the throne.
Ironically, the band did exactly what they needed to do with “Infected Nations”. Instead of trying to out-Thrash their debut, they took a more mature and thoughtful process for their second album and simply took their music in a different direction. Of course, “Infected Nations” is still Thrash, but this time it’s a much more methodical and focused attack instead of pure energy and shred.
I will admit that it took me a few spins to really catch what EVILE was doing here. My initial reaction to the album was: ‘boy this is slow for these guys!’, and yes, this album is mostly a mid tempo fist pumping romp through and through. Although they do have their quick moments here and there like on “Devoid Of Thought” or even in the context of song like on the opener “Infected Nation”, but the majority of this album is a lot slower than most of their peers in the Thrash genre. EVILE seems to be moving in a similar pattern to what METALLICA started doing on “Master Of Puppets” for this album. There are longer songs that are a bit more crafted in writing with lots of movements in tempo and change up with rhythms. “Infected Nations” definitely moves far more epic in terms of writing with only one song clocking in around the 4 minute mark as its shortest piece. Of course, as if writing far more epic sounding Thrash wasn’t enough, the band closes the album with a doozy of an instrumental; “Hundred Wrathful Deities” that brings to mind METALLICA once again in craft work, but surpasses anything that band has done in the last 2 decades easily.
Of course, great writing and masterful craftsmanship in song is only half the battle. The other half is the performances and EVILE doesn’t let up there either. We get another talented display of instrumental prowess on this one with armfuls of memorable riffs from the brothers Drake (Ol on lead and Matt on rhythms and vocals) and some nice solid shredding once again with lots of nice feel for solos and leads. The bass and drum work hold their own with the brothers Drake and really pound in the mid tempos (and an impressive break on “Genocide”). Unfortunately, for all the great performances instrumentally on “Infected Nations” my most valuable player award has to go to the increased presence and approach from vocalist Matt Drake. Lyrically and musically, his performance on the vocals is 10 fold better than on “Enter The Grave”, and I loved his work there too. He takes an old school Max Cavalera approach to singing and gives some nice extensions and musicality to his voice without losing that harsh edge that makes him undeniably a great Thrash vocalist. Throw on that some great lyrical work about world issues and epic Thrash topics like the end of the world and social issues and “Infected Nations” makes songs like “Thrasher” look like child’s play. Bravo Mr. Drake for giving me the unexpected and succeeding so valiantly at it.
Honestly, if I had one complaint it would be that some of the songs do tend to drag on a bit too long at times. “Genocide” just tends to pull on a bit longer then I think it could have and “Metamorphosis” tends to follow up in the same trend. It works for some of the tracks like “Plague To End All Plagues” or the first single “Infected Nation”, but it feels a bit forced at times. That’s me being nit picky though.
Otherwise, “Infected Nations” is an amazing follow-up to an acclaimed debut from EVILE. It Thrashes, but carries itself like a damn epic story unfolding as it plays through and allowing the listeners to hear a more mature and structured work of art. I may not have enjoyed it quite as much as their debut, but its one more epic and monstrous success for these British Thrashers.
Songs to check out: “Infected Nation”, “Plague To End All Plagues”, “Hundred Wrathful Deities”.
(Online October 12, 2009)