On their previous album, EVILE demonstrated a style that was derivative, and had it not been for the strength of the performances, fans would have been justified for dismissing it as thinly-disguised SLAYER-worship. Their passion for 1980’s West Coast Thrash was strong enough to overcome this, particularly given that the songs, though imitative, were well-written.
Two years later, those elements that were sufficient to elevate a debut album can no longer work the same magic for a sophomore album. Young bands can be forgiven for imitating, but sooner or later they need to grow a little and assert some independence.
The songwriting is still strong, but they show little evolution. Listeners again are served an hour-long diet of SLAYER-inspired riffs, vocals, and solos. Fans of Old-School Thrash will enjoy it, but will not put any of it on the same pedestal as songs from the pioneers of the genre. The songs are good, but musically they are not compelling enough to displace “South Of Heaven” from regular rotation in the die-hard fan’s playlist.
The biggest growth, though, is manifested in the lyrics, which are more focused on social and political themes than before. There is greater maturity in the band’s ability to manipulate imagery to deliver a deeper message, and “Nosphoros” is perhaps the best example. A Greek word meaning “disease-bearing,” the song title is also the word from which the term “nosferatu” gets its derivation. The lyrics use the imagery of victims turned into vampires, unquestioningly both propagating and obeying the whims of their sire. Yet at a deeper level the lyrics could also be interpreted as a criticism of leaders, particularly religious ones, who manipulate their followers and bring them “ever closer to one mind.” This is a skillful use of metaphorical storytelling, and a clever use of language and vocabulary that rewards the listener who cares enough to pick up a dictionary.
Like the last album, this is skillfully executed. It worships at the altar of Old School Thrash, and makes no apologies for it, so those who do not enjoy this genre can safely take a pass on this release. Growth-wise, this is a mixed bag – one step forward and one back, so to speak. EVILE are still talented enough to play good music, but one hopes that next time they express a little more that is uniquely them.
(Online February 10, 2010)