Warbringer, Evile keep thrash revival alive on respective third albums

Warbringer

Growing up and coming of age musically in the late ’80s and early ’90s, my ears took quite a beating from thrash metal. That’s basically all I listened to on the way to school, on the way back, while studying, while playing video games. It consumed me, and I turned to magazines such as Metal Maniacs and Hit Parader and spent time sifting through tapes of Headbangers Ball trying to find all the newest thrash news and videos. It’s also what led me to death and black metal and so forth, so it also worked as sort of a foundation of growth for discovering what else was out there.

My tape decks were full of what one might expect – Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Nuclear Assault, Overkill, Vio-Lence, Prong, Voivod, Sepultura, etc. – and I wore out those cassettes. Funny enough, but last night I tried to listen to my tape copy of Testament’s “New Order,” and it’s so beaten that any attempt to add any volume resulted in loud rattles and hisses, totally drowning out the music. If Atlantic would stop being jerks and allow Testament to reissue their back catalog remastered, that would be so nice. That way I wouldn’t mind parting with my cash to buy them because I know they’d sound good, unlike the versions available to the public now.

The recent new wave of thrash metal bands has gotten a cold shoulder by a lot of people. Metal fans can be just as elitist as the Brooklyn hipsters they likely mock, and they can be as rigid as anyone. I’m not totally innocent myself, but I try to keep an open mind about things when it comes to metal. It’s a large field with so many sub-genres, and while they don’t all work for me, I give everything a chance. But I never turned a cold shoulder to the newer thrash bands, basically because it’s a sound I grew up enjoying and am happy to hear younger musicians revive the scene. I’m cool with bands such as Toxic Holocaust, Municipal Waste, Violator, and SSS, and the two groups we’ll discuss today I’ve followed fairly closely and, despite some snide remarks from people questioning the bands’ intentions, I’ve never felt a reason to pre-judge them. So let’s put all that crap aside and talk about music, OK?

First up are Warbringer and their hellacious new record “Worlds Torn Asunder,” their third. The band is technically capable, and their sound is growing more mature with every release, proving they’re interested in being a quality unit and not just cashing in on a trend. They lean toward your tried-and-true thrash subjects of war, pestilence, evil and the crushing weight of being governed, and while their approach sometimes sounds a little cheeky, if you really pay attention to what’s going on, you’ll also realize they have their ears to the ground and are aware of what’s going on around them.

The quintet are doing their finest Spinal Tap by breaking in yet another new drummer, though from how they described it in a recent issue of Decibel, the band never has felt more secure. You can hear that in their music, too, and their assault is channeled and bloodthirsty, ripping into “Living Weapon,” a strong, stirring opener, where vocalist John Kevill sounds like he’s opening a war salvo by screaming, “Open fire!” “Shattered Like Glass” has solid bass work and a nice double-kick drum quake, as the song’s protagonist faces his own mortality at the throes of disease; “Wake Up … Destroy!” is a kick-ass blast that could be an excellent show opener, the thematically it sounds like an anthem for the Occupy movement; “Savagery” imagines black seas and dark skies as the world is torn apart; “Enemies of the State” has ties in today’s politics but would have worked just as well in thrash’s heyday, especially when Kevill warns, “The iron curtain closes, there’s no chance for escape”; and “Behind the Veils of Night” is a lucid instrumental that sounds like it belongs on an Opeth record.

Warbringer remains one of thrash’s best young bands, and their improvement since their formation in 2004 is quite evident. They sound dedicated to their craft and their sound, and they should keep getting better. They still need to make a landmark, special album that etches their name in history, but they sound capable of accomplishing that goal.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/Warbringermusic

To buy “Worlds Torn Asunder,” go here: http://www.cmdistro.com/Search/warbringer

For more on the label, go here: http://www.centurymedia.com/

Evile

UK thrashers Evile have done a pretty good job getting their name and music out there, claiming tour support slots along titans such as Megadeth, Kreator, Overkill and Vader, getting their music onto Rock Band, something that surely exposed them to new fans, and becoming one of Earache’s most important bands. They seemed on their way. But tragedy struck the band in October 2009 when bassist Mike Alexander died while being rushed to the hospital with a pulmonary embolism, and the rest of Evile were left to pick up the pieces. But they did just that. They paid homage to their fallen mate, worked to help Alexander’s family, and then they moved on to continue their art, culminating in the new album “Five Serpents Teeth.”

If you’ve followed the band since their inception and their debut record “Enter the Grave” and follow-up “Infected Nations,” you may be wondering if the group still sounds like they’re trying to be the new Metallica. Yes, they sort of are still doing that, but not nearly as blatantly as they were on “Infected.” A lot of that is due to the vocal approach and phrasing of vocalist/guitarist Matt Drake, who has way too much James Hetfield inside of him, but even he tries to change that up a bit on their third album. I don’t think Evile ever will get away from the Metallica worship, but now it’s used more as a base, and they branch out some musically. In fact, there are moments on “Five Serpents Teeth” that sound closer to modern-day Machine Head. “Five Serpents” is a good listen and a strong Evile album, which is right up there along with their debut. They open with the title track that begins sounding like the opening to “Blackened” and is the most blatant attempt on here to sound more like their idols than themselves. But things change up on “In Dreams of Terror” and “Xaraya,” which show the band is capable of standing on their own merits, and ballad “In Memoriam” is a sad, earnest tribute to their fallen mate Alexander. It’s one of the best songs in their catalog, bottom line. “Origin of Oblivion” and “Descent Into Madness” are both speedy rippers that prove Evil can be gnarlier and grittier than those who paved the way for them, and I’d like to hear them go this route more often.

This band is capable of doing their own thing, and while totally shedding the Metallica feathers may be tough, it’s something they should pursue more aggressively. This is a decent step toward that direction, and they should be commended for being able to recover from a horrible tragedy to reign again. Evile’s also one of the better thrash bands out there, but like Warbringer, they still need to make that special statement that gets them mentioned alongside thrash’s greats. Maybe they’ll get there on album four.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.evile.co.uk/

To buy “Five Serpents Teeth,” go here: http://earache.com/uswebstore/index.php/cPath/667_669_41?osCsid=t2iqohlt51m7eefhi2r1bbrgb5

For more on the label, go here: http://www.earache.com/