By Natalie Zed
Five Serpent’s Teeth is the third full-length studio album that Huddersfield, UK-based Evile have released with Earache. Evile are a significant force behind the popular thrash revival; they’re also a band known for their energetic live shows and the strong online personalities of their members, who are all active on social media (especially guitarist Ol Drake). Their visibility and activity level have garnered a great deal of attention for supporting neo-thrash, and their following is far from undeserved.
Five Serpent’s Teeth is a marked improvement over their already solid previous releases. Whereas the earlier albums occasionally felt a little too close to their influences, Five Serpent’s Teeth is an effort that shows Evile have synthesized those influences and developed a sound all their own. Matt Drake has worked on his vocals quite a bit, displaying greater range and emotion. His tone is still a little flat here and there, but the overall sound is richer and more engaging. Where the album really shines, however, are the guitars. The riff structures range from catchy and meaty to blisteringly hot and razor sharp. The solos are also ridiculous, complex and whirlwind-fast — the squealing, soaring solo at the end of “Eternal Empire” stands out. Ol Drake’s leads are unquestionably the highlight of the album.
The other thing noticeable about Five Serpent’s Teeth is that it’s not limited solely by a traditional thrash aesthetic. This is the first time Evile have released a record without Mike Alexander and “In Memoriam” is for him. On this track, the band prove they can be darker, moody and emotive, as well as fast and up-tempo. The song is almost ballad-like, demonstrating Evile aren’t afraid to stretch themselves and try something new. The vocals in particular are very Hetfield-like. On the whole, the band chemistry is very good; they’re moving forward, stronger than before, and that’s the real tribute to their fallen bassist.
Five Serpent’s Teeth proves that Evile are also growing, in terms of skill and aesthetics. The album is faster and more precise; the band members are surer of their choices and influences; and their sound is more original and independent. They still bring the same power and aggression, but are now more thoughtful, more clearly directing their energy. Evile have always had huge heart and are now adding increased smarts, which bodes well for the rest of their career.