28th March 2015
Review by Tim Bolitho-Jones
Oh thank God Evile are back! Let’s face it, as good as Municipal Waste, Gama Bomb and Warbringer are, no band could lay as convincing a claim to being the leaders of new-school thrash as the Huddersfield four piece.
But ever since they lost founding guitarist Oli Drake in 2013, their momentum has stalled. Hell, the ‘Skull’ album is nearly two years old and they’ve still not been able to tour it properly! No surprise then that after being offline for so long, there’s a palpable air of excitement in The Underworld tonight. There’s a lot of long hair and denim jackets squeezed into the venue and everyone’s looking forward to intentionally shouting the wrong word during the chorus of ‘Cult.’
As always though, there’s the support acts to check out. The night kicks off with a slightly different style of metal with Northampton’s Lay Siege. Slower, groovier and heavier than the headliners, they’re closer to Lamb Of God than Kreator, but they’re also bloody good. They’ve got some satisfyingly meaty riffs up their sleeves and they win the crowd over very quickly. There’s a lot of fists pumping by the end and the only slight disappointment is finding out ‘Soul Drinker’ isn’t a song about Warhammer 40,000 after all. Minus ten nerd points for them.
Reverted on the other hand might live within spitting distance of the venue, but they sound like they belong on the sunset strip. They dial back the heavy while increasing the showmanship and have a natural confidence that should see them playing bigger stages in the near future. They’re more hard rock than metal, but they keep the good times rolling and do nothing to dent the enthusiasm in the room. Stick them on a tour with Blackstone Cherry and they’ll go down a storm.
There’s no doubt though that tonight is all about Evile. From the moment they step out the cheers are deafening, the entire floor area becomes a seething mosh pit and bodies fly from the stage constantly. It’s like being stuck in the middle of a human tornado with thrash blaring at full volume and it totally fucking rules, even if the set list is a bit of a shock.
Opening with the rabid ‘Outsider,’ over the course of the next hour the band play every single track from ‘Skull.’ They’re not in order and there’s a few old favourites interspersed throughout, but this gig quickly becomes a celebration of their great unaired record. It’s as if the frustration of not being able to play the new material for months has finally boiled over and while it’s a risky move, it pays off tremendously. ‘Words Of The Dead’ is a big, booming anthem sung back by a nearly deranged crowd, ‘Head Of The Demon’ a stomping mid-paced chugger and ‘Underworld’ ignites utter chaos.
That said the best bits are still the established classics. ‘Enter The Grave’ appears early on and seems even faster live than on record, while ‘Infected Nation’ is a reliable finish to the main set. Then there’s ‘Thrasher.’ As the most shamelessly fun song in their back catalogue, it’s the definitive call-to-arms of post-millennial thrash metal. The pit becomes a churning, sweaty mass as Matt Drake bellows his vocal chords into oblivion and the night ends on an energetic high. They’ve endured tragedy and adversity far beyond their share, but Evile have survived and they made the Underworld their own. If any band can inspire the youngsters to put on bullet belts, it’s these guys.