Review: Evile – The Unknown
British thrash and groove metal act EVILE attempt to serve up some contemporary and progressive interpretations of classic sound textures on their new 6th studio album The Unknown. Released July 14th, 2023 via Napalm Records, the mileage of enjoyment for this project will vary depending on the listener. For those who want some thrash beyond the Big 4, then they’ll be satisfied. However, in a day and age where thrash has grown and evolved so much since its heyday of the 80s, it’s a little hard for Evile’s new project to stand out. While it does get lost in the shuffle and it feels a little overstuffed at points, there are still some standout moments and good performances that deserve some attention.
The group for the most part does a serviceable job playing. There’s no flat-out moments where things sound out of place and the flow of the tracks are never disrupted. However, there really isn’t much innovation or urgency to the performance, leaving it as an experience that kind of just comes and goes. From OL Drake’s vocals & lead guitar, and Ben Carter’s drums, to Joel Graham’s bass, and Adam Smith’s rhythm guitar all fit together well and they show some good chemistry with each other. It’s just not a project where there’s an immediate standout to mind. Everyone is good and I’d commend them as workhorses, down in the trenches, slaving away on a collection of serviceable metallic morsels.
“The Unknown” is a doomy opening track. It’s nice and groovy for the most part but never really gets into the next gear. “The Mask We Wear” continues with the groove metal and thrash based sound. It’s got a decent buildup and good guitar and drum work. The song writing isn’t impressive so far but the performances and good production serve the material well. The posturing and faux-Phil Anselmo machismo wears thin kind of fast admittedly. “Monolith” continues this trajectory with a strong doomy atmosphere, but ultimately goes nowhere. I would add the last minute of the track did win me over however.
“When Mortal Coils Shed” is the tonal change the album needed, but it quickly burns out. Putting it bluntly, it’s very much a “Black Album” core number. Its parallels to “Nothing Else Matters” are pretty noticeable but that’s not a bad thing. Its melodic moodiness goes over well. One of the album`s strongest cuts is “Sleepless Eyes”. In my eyes, it should have been the opening track. Very kill ‘em all era thrash but I can’t knock the hustle and have a great reverence for that sound. It’s got a great energy that carries into track 6, “Out of Sight”. Similarly to the last cut, its sheer muscle, firepower and sweet won me over. Bonus points to the great solo.
While the next track “At Mirror’s Speech” does inevitably burn out after some time, it opens with some welcomed ferocity and head banging energy. “Reap What You Sow” is a solid cut, pretty run of the mill but still well performed. “Beginning of the End” is 100% the most interesting song on the album. Great bass work, thunderous double bass kicks and an excellent solo. Definitely the cut to check out. The album’s closer “Balance of Time”, is a satisfying ending with a nice interlude to end the project on a very solid note.
Evile are capable of making some pulse pounding and energy filled bangers. The consistency of the record actively works against the enjoyment of the full product. Track by track it’s hard to stay engaged at all times, but through sticking with it there’s still some diamonds in the rough to be found. “The Unknown” isn’t what I’d classify as a failure, and frankly I believe there are sections of the metal world that will embrace it with open arms. The listener either needs to go into the record with a certain mindset, or pick out the top tracks and go back and hear the rest if those numbers hit well. Evile is capable of doing, and has in the past, done some great work, and I commend them for taking risks with this record and doing something different. The end result might not be a complete success but there’s still a few cuts that will please fans and keep newcomers interested.
Standout tracks: “Beginning of the End”, “Out of Sight”, & “Sleepless Eyes”
The Unknown gets 2.5 flaming Toilets ov Hell out of 5
Evile’s The Unknown is out now via Napalm Records.