Sound — 9
Let's start with the production here: leagues better the band's at-this-point-infamous debut CD "Enter the Grave". The bass is audible, the vocals sound fantastically well-recorded, and the lead guitar tones are incredible. The rhythm guitar tones - where do we begin? Sheer thrash goodness. Matt Drake's right hand is developing perfect time and feels much more aggressive and tighter than it did previously. As far as the quality of the music itself, the instrumentation is beyond impressive. The album opens with the rhythmically challenging title track, and the "typical" acoustic opening is handled beautifully here, sounding like early Sepultura at its finest. In fact, a lot of the sound on this disc sounds like it's been sprayed by a Max Cavalera scent (which I certainly don't think is a bad thing, since we're talking the Beneath The Remains era of the band). That and the band sounds like they've been listening to a little more Exodus as well, which certainly can't be a bad thing - and it also feels like there's some death metal influence, but it's hard to say as the album is in standard tuning (this is also a very, very good thing). Evile has made leaps and bounds from Enter The Grave in every way possible; don't let other reviews fool you. These boys have successfully made the transition from writing simple thrash metal to complex social commentaries filled with jaded, rhythmically incomprehensible guitar riffs and solo work that is reminiscent of Kirk Hammett in 1989 - if he were more progressive and less bluesy, and a whole lot faster. That's right. Ol Drake really steps it up on this release. And Mike Alexander, as I said before is audible - does this mean he's good? Occasionally, his line stands up, and his solo during Hundred Wrathful Deceits is absolutely wonderful - if only because of its place in the song and nothing else. Be warned though: this isn't the Evile of old. It's much more mature. This is a good thing. The songs are much more comprehensive, the riffs more intense. Also a good thing. The songwriting in general has improved - the riffs are so much more elaborate, so much more interesting - and there's a beautiful eleven and a half minute instrumental that doesn't bore me. Picture Metallica work meets modern ideas. These boys, musically, have climbed from Kill 'Em All style songs to Ride the Lightning/...And Justice For All quality. Easily a 9 from me as far as instrumentation goes. The work is wonderful - not flawless, but certainly beyond worth hearing, and it blows the pants off of anything that Megadeth has put out this year.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are also leagues above Enter The Grave. Why? Because they're not singing about childish affairs anymore. They're singing about the world around them - politics especially. Not in any way that seems like a view is being forced upon you though (leave that to Mustaine), but in more of a Metallica/Lovecraftian way. Take note, metalheads of the future: this is how you want to write your lyrics. Now, I will take an issue with Matt Drake's vocal style. I will give him points for being a far better singer than he was in the Enter The Grave days - in fact, saying he sounds like Tom Araya no longer applies like it used to - but he still hasn't hit the mark. His singing, especially during the choruses, isn't aggressive enough and doesn't seem to be melodic enough. It's comparable to Matt Heafy's singing style - which is unfortunate because although both singers have potential, neither of them seem to choose melodies that would add to the song in the way that Hetfield or Mustaine could in the 80's (or Joey Belladonna for that matter). I'll give him points for improving, but the 7 I give here is generous and based more on the massive improvement from Enter The Grave. If this were my first experience listening to Matt Drake, I'd be inclined to give this a 5 out of 10.
Overall Impression — 8
This album is such a massive improvement from Evile's debut that it's hard not to recommend it to anybody who enjoys a solid thrash metal album. It's probably the best pure thrash metal album to come out of this retro movement (although whether or not it lends more validity to the movement will be up to time to tell). One gets the feeling that if this band continues its positive progression, they could very well become one of metal's most important bands. And their career trajectory seems to be matching positively to Metallica's 1980's ventures at the moment, so it wouldn't shock me to see an even better album next time around. It's hard not to recommend any certain song from this album, or to recommend certain songs in particular. The title track, Hundred Wrathful Deceits, Devoid of Thought, and Genocide are all worthy investments to hear where the band is going. But in all honesty, to get the big picture, you'll need to get the whole album and listen to it multiple times before it sinks in. Pick this one up soon and show some support for arguably the best retro thrash band around!