Sound — 7
Here's a simple comparison: Man Against Machine', from Evile's face-scouring debut Enter The Grave', had a dissonant intro on a clean guitar before thy metal was jacked, and this new effort begins with something similarly dark. The odd metre and menacing counterpoint of Infected Nation' say something very different though; they say certainty where before they said instability, they say impending doom where before they said impending riff, they say man where before they said boy. This coming of age' continues after the first 40 seconds when that juicy Eb, fuelled by a hungry 6505, returns to the field. The first few tracks' big-bad-wolf attitude and resolute stomp have the sound of a band with greater tenure than Evile, a specific one when Matt Drake starts to sing. Let us address the elephant in the room by saying he does sound like James Hetfield and he furthers the very Justice-y vibe which originates from the pounding mid-tempo riffs and equally pulsating drumming from Ben Carter. Just like Enter The Grave', the songs are fairly long for thrash metal but once the novelty of Drake's new style wears off the length of Infected Nations' becomes far more noticeable. Each song has its merits and they crop up in the moment but memorability suffers at times. Luckily this isn't the case with every song, as Genocide' and Time No More' put a steel-plated toe up your backside just the way they should and you can still feel the pain when the huge instrumental Hundred Wrathful Deities' wraps up proceedings. Ol Drake's solos are, as ever, a highlight and his well thought-out leads are always a welcome resuscitation during songs like Nosophoros' which leave little other lasting impression. They more than often are the thrashiest moments of their respective songs, though I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not there's a connection between the two.
Lyrics — 6
It was easy to be disappointed when this album's artwork was revealed because, awesome as it was, it did not depict Rambo fighting off legions of flying sharks. Maybe that's an unreasonable expectation for an album cover but it looks like Evile have forgone the silliness for a more seriously minded batch of songs. The swap to a Megadeth or Sepultura-style social commentary works well, although the lyrics aren't quite as daring as either of those examples. The domineering vocals hide what are actually pretty solid lyrics with both clear meanings and an enjoyable element of personality. Unfortunately it is the vocals more than anything which make this album drag in places; Drake's singing is pitched, but not melodic and the repetitive phrasing and note choice means that the initial stranglehold the album has on you loosens pretty quickly. The closing instrumental actually benefits greatly from not having any vocals, and ends up being one of the most engaging songs on the album despite its length, which says a lot about the vocals and their edge-dulling effect on the music. Credit where credit's due, the performance is competent but the lyrics are what give this section an above-average score.
Overall Impression — 6
Maybe it's easier to think of this album as great music with intermissions, but at times it seems more like half-decent music with intermissions of greatness. Not at all helped by the wash of uninspiring vocals the album does fall short of lofty expectations but is still worth a listen or two. There's something inherently likeable about Evile which makes it all the more difficult to come to terms with Infected Nations', as it is a challenging album to listen to and is only dotted with quality songs, rather than filled to the rafters. They have at least proved to their detractors that they are not a flash-in-the-pan party-thrash band, but they've traded out that immediacy and fun factor for a more risky path that at this point in their career may just be a little too grand a step out into the great wide open.