EVILE has always been a band that I expect a lot from and they have always delivered. Whether it’s the foundational work of their debut, the expanded writing of their sophomore effort, or the melodic additions of their third record, EVILE has been a band that pushes themselves to new and unique levels with each record. That is, until “Skull.” The fourth album from these UK Thrashers is easily their safest effort since their debut. It’s a great album with plenty of instant classics for the band, but from a band that always pushes boundaries and themselves to new heights – it comes off as a little too conservative.
With my initial reaction stated, “Skull” is still a pretty impressive Thrash effort. From the ambitious and ripping riff that ignites the album on “Underworld”, through the pseudo-ballad on “Tomb” and into the groove tempo on “What You Become,” “Skull” is an album that tries to recapture the diversity and style they damn near perfected on “Five Serpent’s Teeth.” The Drake brothers effectively showcase why they are perhaps the strongest guitar duo in Thrash Metal today with some smartly written, memorable, and easily digestible riffs on “Words Of The Dead,” the flashy solo from Ol Drake in the title track, or his acoustic work at the end of “The Naked Sun.” The band also backs it up with strong drum and bass work to ground the album in the “less is more” motif with strong track diversity from the previously mentioned riff stomper “What You Become” or the balls out thrashing of “Outsider.” EVILE are impressively talented men and they create strong foundations for Matt Drake to continue to strut his aggressive/melodic singing that he discovered on the previous record. “Skull” is just another classic record from the UK Thrashers in many ways.
It’s this strength of writing and performance that earns the album the score it has. And I will admit, the album has certainly grown with me with each successive spin. We’ve heard it before though. We heard this album two years ago. Yeah, the parts might be in different places (except for “Outsider” which is essentially “Thrasher Part II”), but all the parts are there on the record. It’s this lack of ‘freshness’ that tended to disappoint when EVILE had such a track record of amplified talents and expanding performance values with their previous records.
Fans of the new age Thrash attack that is EVILE are definitely going to enjoy this record, for it is a great album. It’s Thrashy, catchy, and has strong performances all around. Hell, I would even venture to guess that it makes my top ten records of the year by the time the end of 2013 rolls around. This reviewer just doesn’t expect “great” from EVILE. I expect “perfection.” Especially after “Five Serpent’s Teeth” was so effective at this sound. “Skull” is a great album, but it is a step down for these UK Thrashers despite the impressive elements.
(Online May 20, 2013)