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Five Serpent's Teeth Mark Eglinton , October 5th, 2011 10:53

Evile's guitarist Ol Drake recently said to me, presumably tongue-in-cheek: "I'm always waiting for the review that reads simply 'Shit sandwich.'" Now, with space at a premium when it comes to word count, as well as a suspicion that frugality of words often says much more than needless verbosity, few would argue that a review containing just the words 'shit' and 'sandwich' (in that order) is just too direct and devoid of qualification for most ummm... tastes. Regardless of his reasons for expecting such a grisly critique, he'll need to wait a while if Evile's third full-length, Five Serpent's Teeth, is an indication of where Huddersfield's thrash lords are headed.

The band's previous record, Infected Nations, was certainly a significant step ahead of their debut on all fronts, but there was still that nagging suspicion that – despite great musicianship and production – Evile relied too heavily on an 80s thrash blueprint instead of developing an identity all of their own, and riffs that seemed overly complex, combined with a cloying feel of being slowly but surely stifled, did nothing but blunt what should have really been their breakthrough record. However, with a tireless touring regimen following the tragic death of bass player Mike Alexander, Evile's road-time – a lot of it in the US – seems to have yielded not only a terrifically tight bunch of songs, but also – and more importantly for sure – a new found sense of perspective on the genre on which their core sound is founded, if that makes sense?

Ironically perhaps, lead single 'Cult' is perhaps the most blatantly Metallica-like song the band have ever written, right down to Matt Drake's increasingly Hetfield-like vocal delivery. Devotees of Metallica's ...And Justice For All will definitely double take the intro to the title track too, given its clear similarity to AJFA's 'Blackened'. But because the other tracks offer such a diverse feast of fast, technical thrash, you're inclined to forgive them whereas in the past you just couldn't.

Speed freaks will love the taught and potent thrashers 'Origin Of Oblivion' and 'Descent Into Madness', whereas mid-tempo chuggers 'Eternal Empire' and 'Centurion' will satiate those who crave pure, raw crunch. Perhaps of most surprise though is the poignant tribute to departed Mike Alexander, 'In Memoriam', featuring tender vocal melody and a truly sublime Ol Drake solo leading to a mighty dual-guitar salvo which could convince anyone that death is certainly not the end. From the toughest moments are borne the most compelling work, and, in Evile's case, in crafting an album as assured as Five Serpent's Teeth they surely deserve to sit atop the modern thrash elite.

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