Album Review: Evile – Hell Unleashed

Album Review: Evile - Hell Unleashed
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Back in the day, we Brits were never as successful in the thrash scene as our cousins in the United States and Germany. We had Sabbat, Onslaught and Acid Reign, among others – I’m from Xentrix country so would be remiss if I didn’t mention them, too. But for all Sabbat’s inventiveness, Onslaught’s power and Acid Reign’s fun, the UK Thrash scene was more Ford Fiesta than Ferrari.

So, when the thrash revival of the mid-noughties occurred the British scene was well represented with promising bands like Deadfall, Pitiful Reign and Headless Cross – who went on to become Savage Messiah. But it was Huddersfield’s Evile who were the Great White Hope of the UK scene; it seemed no matter where you went, Evile would be there and the constant touring honed them into a thrash machine, evidenced by the string of albums, beginning with Enter the Grave, suggesting the future looked rosy for the band.

However, tragedy, personnel changes and a general lack of momentum slowed Evile’s progress to a near-stop and, although the were tight and effective on the 2015 Sepultura tour, they seemed lackluster a few months later at Hammerfest.

But 2021 sees Evile back with a new record and a new line-up. Main-stay frontman, Matt Drake has gone and his brother – and former member, Ol – has returned to take over the vocal duties. Ol shares the guitar parts with newly recruited Adam Smith, while the rhythm section remains as was, with drummer Ben Carter now the longest serving band member.

One thing to note on Hell Unleased is that Evile are not out to reinvent the wheel. Rather their manifesto is to deliver the best Thrashing record they can and, man, do they do that!

The anticipation just as the needle hits the groove (metaphorically speaking) is whether this version of the band will be able to match the successes of the previous incarnation, and whether their version of thrash will be relevant after an eight-year hiatus.

Luckily, the answer to those questions is a resounding YES! From the word Go, Hell Unleashed is a thrasher’s wet dream. Filled with unrelenting driving rhythms and crushing guitars, this is the sound of a band back and ready to retake their place at the top of the pecking-order.

Everything about Hell Unleashed feels organic and every switch in tempo or change of sound feels as though it is the natural progression of the music. Paralysed opens the album and from the beginning the band get down to business: angry, unrelenting, building walls of sound before demolishing them, while Ol’s vocals sit lower than Matt’s used to, giving the whole thing a more distained vibe. Similarly, the title track, with its industrial opening, barrels along at a thousand miles an hour.

The song-writing is a masterclass in thrash-appeal-madness, with every composition feeling like a variation on a theme. Incarcerated features some whiplash vocals, while Disorder’s swirling guitars and melodic solo is a throwback to the sound of Evile of old and Zombie Apocalypse is as slow and plodding as its subject matter.

The Thing (1982) is a fine demonstration of Evile (2021) in that it shows their music to be imbued with a breadth of texture rarely seen in the extreme side of music. The frenetic vocals reflect the paranoia of the subject matter and the development of the song as a musical movement is reflective of the fact that this track, as with all the tracks on the album, is a journey of discovery.

Ol’s voice gives Hell Unleashed a more Slayer-sound than Evile have previously sported and, with every track on the new record an instant pit classic, the future again looks rosy for the band.

Welcome back, lads – you have been missed.

ICYMI - You can listen to our interview with Ol Drake here.

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