Is there anyone out there that has not yet noticed the numerous bands now playing a decidedly retro style of '80s Bay Area thrash? The list does goes on and on with acts like MERCILESS DEATH, DEKAPITATOR, and REANIMATOR (to name just a few) tearing it up like nobody's business, and doing it quite well, I might add. Add England's EVILE to the list with their Earache debut, "Enter the Grave", the quartet of brothers Matt and Oli Drake (vocals/rhythm guitar and lead guitar, respectively), Ben Carter (drums), and Mike Alexander (bass) doing justice to the old form. The guys even went so far as to enlist the legendary Flemming Rasmussen (METALLICA's "Master of Puppets" and "Ride the Lightning") to produce this bad boy.So how good is "Enter the Grave"? While definitely not inventive and, unsurprisingly, rather predictable, it is an album of 10 worthy thrash metal tracks that do indeed owe a debt of gratitude to classic METALLICA and EXODUS. The riffs are darn strong with chainsaw speed cutting going on all over the place, and Rasmussen gives the mix a lot of beef. Most importantly, the members of EVILE have that indefinable spirit that separates the pretenders from the real thrash metal warriors. When Matt Drake screams "Bow down to the thrasher!" (on — you guessed it — "Thrasher") you do indeed feel like it is 1986 all over again. In fact, the lyrical fare is exactly what you would expect from an '80s-style band (e.g., "Darkness will consume the earth, the rivers will run red" from "Burned Alive"), as it should be. Incidentally, Drake's vocals are muscular and enunciated for maximum impact, a contrast from a lot of the nasally/raspy vocal styles heard from the neo-thrashers of today. His shout during the chorus of "We Who Are About to Die" is pure Tom Araya. Finally, there is just enough variety here to keep the album fresh during a front-to-back listen. For example, the creepy, lightly picked intro and riff-build to speedster "Man Against Machine" is nicely constructed. If it is Hetfield/Holt riffs and Hammett soloing that you still crave and you seek a somewhat different representation of the golden age of thrash than what is played by groups like MERCILESS DEATH, then "Enter the Grave" is your ticket. It warms the heart to hear the youngsters latching on to the classic style and waving the flag, doesn't it?
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