Evile have been through some emotional times. The death of friend and bassist Mike Alexander in 2009 was such a hammer-blow for the four-piece that many wondered how they’d continue. A constant thought reoccured when watching them play their first live show in Durham – we’re glad they got through it.
Durham’s very own Vortex opened proceedings with an unhinging force of death-thrash. Their mentality is simple – if you knock and no-one answers, forget pleasantries and smash the door down with a blistering barrage of unrelenting powerchords. The four-piece’s set shifted rapidly in a bamboozling bombardment, marking intentions from the off and folding on an impressive cover of Exodus’ Bonded By Blood.
Arcite are another native to the North-East and a band that are mustering a wealth of metal support. The five-piece’s performance showed us why they’re increasingly revered with a unanimously brutal performance that shook the rafters of the live lounge. Incomprehensible yet consistently powerful death-grunts pulverised through their cohesive bastion of technical riffery and heady ‘corish’ breaks. Although the Tyneside metallers were a string down – thus a guitarist down towards the end of their set – they remarkably endured to finish strongly. In The Shadows crowned what was a glaring example of this band’s promise.
On tour for the full duration of Evile’s mammoth UK tour, London’s Savage Messiah continued the night’s eclectic musical path. Sure, they’re an unmistakeable ‘thrash’ band, but have tinges of traditional metal riffage and high-pitched raspy yowls that nod to Priest, Gamma Ray and Megadeth. If you’ve a keen ear for some mega-shreddage and a desire for galloping verses that would urge a pacifist to join the cavalry then Savage Messiah are the band for you. Frontman Dave Silver might have found his first time in the Northern lands “a bit cold”, but the frost didn’t glaze the southerner’s fervour on standout choice of the set Servant To Your Death.
The headliners had plenty of eyes on them as they took to the stage, but any pressure was quickly eliminated with the introduction of the title-track from their third and arguably finest record to date – Five Serpent’s Teeth. For a guy who says his vocal chords are under the weather, lead vocalist Matt Drake remained melodically agile and consistent throughout – still matching up with Ol Drake’s occasional harmonisations. Cult best exemplified this. The video single got fists pumping and hands clapping in its coy, self-directed jibe on the band’s growing popularity.
If a true moshing song was what fans wanted then they weren’t going to be disappointed either. Eternal Empire was a key moment in the early stages of the performance – riling a circle pit with a fun mentality that screamed ‘don’t ask questions, just bang your head or something’.
To penultimately please fans of the Huddersfield four-piece, Enter The Grave and Infected Nation balanced the set-list, essentially giving a taster of the old with an emphasis on the new.
Evile have a charm about them and it’s reassuring. The enjoyment they take from playing unpretentious thrash metal with a big nod to their idols is not masked – it’s clear. There’s no smoke and mirrors involved – they burn for the music and it’s this passion and enjoyment that comes across on stage. Whether it’s the so-called ‘revival of thrash’ or not, Evile are primarily a fun band, and so long as they keep doing what they do, there’s a place for them – not just in the complicated web of a UK music scene – but in the hearts of many a traditionalist thrash-buff.