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In a world where Metal is seemingly defined by all things doom and black, it is a rare thing to see an album that seems so influenced by some of Metal’s golden years (i.e. the early-mid 80’s). ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’, the latest offering from Yorkshire Metallers Evile, is exactly that – a back to basics piece of heavy metal gold. After their first album, which was produced by Flemming Rasmussen, who was involved in the making of arguably one of the best Thrash (if not the best Metal album of all time) Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’, the band has lost none of their classic, mid-80s Thrash sound. The influences from this collaboration are definitely still present and very obvious to all who know their old-school Metallica. With catchy, head banging riffs that make you want to raise your fist in the air, fast guitar solos and an all-out metal attitude, this is an all round great album with none of the stereotyped metal “doom and gloom”.
The opening title track ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’ sets the scene for a consistently heavy album. Its intense riffage is classic thrash at its best; powerful, anthemic, and able to grab you in a vicelike grip that refuses to let you go until the album’s well and truly over. ‘In Dreams of Terror’ continues in a very similar vein, which, unfortunately, is probably the biggest problem with the album. From time to time it is hard to distinguish one track from another, as there are times when any let-up or subtlety in the song writing and playing are few and far between.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of tracks on ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’ have enough variety between them to keep the album entertaining. ‘Cult’ is a great track, with a fantastic groove that occasionally seems to be missing from the other songs.‘Eternal Empire’ and ‘Xaraya’ both follow the same formula of no holds barred, in-your-face metal. The Track ‘Origin of Oblivion’, if shows a slightly more direct and heavier side of Evile, suggesting that they have their ears tilted ever so slightly towards more modern metal and aren’t just stuck in the 80s. ‘Centurion’ begins with an evil intro that leads into a slower song, but that doesn’t stop it being any less powerful. ‘In Memoriam’ shows a softer side of the band, as a musical tribute to bassist Mike Alexander. Its slow, melancholy melodies show a beauty of playing that the previous seven tracks barely hint at, and is certainly the best track on the album. The calmer atmosphere doesn’t last long however, as ‘Descent into Madness’ returns straight back to the thrash mould. The closing number, ‘Long Live New Flesh’ is a killer anthem which ends the album as a call to arms for all young metal heads out there.
Vocally, there are no soaring melodies or songs about demons and monsters, and the singing is all deep and gravelly, without sounding growly or too guttural. Lyrically, there are great divides, with the song ‘In Memoriam’ dedicated to their late bass player, ‘Cult’ dealing with cultism, and ‘Origin of Oblivion’ dealing with globalisation and capitalism. The dual guitar assault here sounds huge and tight, with fast riffs and technical, lighting-fast fret board wizardry abound, so the air-guitarists out there (myself included) should be satisfied. The influences of these two guitar playing brothers (rhythm guitarist/vocalist Matt Drake and lead guitarist Ol Drake) are rarely hidden from the surface, with the odd moment of guitar harmony that could be taken straight out of any classic Judas Priest album. There are reasons why the metal community are going wild about this band, and the whole album sounds like something that could have come out of the same San Francisco breeding ground that Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer emerged from. Appropriate then that this band has, amongst many other achievements, toured with Thrash Metal titans Megadeth and won a prestigious Kawasaki Golden God Award for being “Metal as F**k.” ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’ suggests that this accolade was very much deserved.
Overall, this album, although at times a bit samey, shows the metal community that all is not lost. Riff based classic thrash metal still exists, and Evile manage to do it well whilst still incorporating fresh and innovative elements. Evile’s record label have advertised this album with one simple tag-line: “Thrash is back”. And is it? Hell yeah!