Evile’s fourth album – ‘Skull’ continues the British thrash collectives’ evolution. Where their last release – ‘Five Serpents Teeth’ adopted a more mid-paced dynamic often reminiscent of Metallica, ‘Skull’ does a better job of fusing the speed of their earlier work with the weightier riffs of ‘Five Serpents Teeth’. Nowhere is this more clear than on title track ‘Skull’ which weaves between mid-pace chugs and the furious thrash riffs that you’d associate with Evile. ‘Enter the Grave’ is sure to be a prominent point of comparison for ‘Skull’ but they’ve done far more than fall back on the début album that first propelled them into metals consciousness on ‘Skull’.
This is the most teeth-clenchingly savage Evile’s riffs have sounded since their début, although the aggression is now coupled with the maturity and complexity of song writing that developed over ‘Infected Nation’ and ‘Five Serpents Teeth’. There are only 9 songs on ‘Skull’, something which lends each track its own distinct identity, be it the majestic soundscapes of ‘The Naked Sun’ that spiral down at a moment’s notice into spine-disconnecting riffage, ‘What You Become’s’ off-kilter rhythms or the full on thrash assault of ‘Outsider’.
If there’s any downside to ‘Skull’ it is that it may not be as instant as Evile can be. This criticism is easily countered by the sheer depth to each song – even part-acoustic ballad ‘Tomb’ which in lesser hands could easily devolve into the category of “Fade to Black parody” finds its own sinister groove, greatly augmented by the sheer talent of Ol Drake as a lead guitarist.
Where ‘Five Serpents Teeth’ saw Evile ‘finding’ their sound by adding extra weight to the riffs, ‘Skull’ sees Evile once and for all convert to become a defiantly modern metal band. ‘Skull’ is as fine a metal album as any you’ll get this year.