@Hammerfest VIII, Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park, Pwllheli, North Wales, 12 March 2016
Evile may have lost the early momentum produced by their 2007 debut, Enter the Grave, but they remain one of the UK’s best-loved thrash bands, an act who did more than most to add credibility and technical dexterity to their genre’s noughties revival.
That’s probably why they were second only to Exodus on Hammerfest VIII’s Sunday bill – and why they drew one of the festival’s largest crowds.
The days when a bunch of wide-eyed young Yorkshiremen were ripping their way across Europe’s basement venues seem a long way away now though, and 2013’s Skull – while an impressive body of work – didn’t ignite the metal world. That didn’t stop the quartet drawing heavily from their fourth opus though. Underworld, for instance, leapt out of the traps as soon as they hit the stage, with Matt Drake and Piers Donno-Fuller’s hyperspeed picking reminding everyone present of their fearsome prowess. Skull’s title track, too, detonated like a hydrogen bomb, sounding even more explosive live than on record. And while Evile will always miss the extraordinary talents of former lead guitarist Ol Drake, Donna-Fuller undoubtedly proved his credentials to the Hammerfest crowd.
And yet Evile can be a frustrating live act. With four strong albums in their armoury, it’s a shame that in front of an audience who’d reached near-rabid levels during Enter the Grave, they aired the laborious, convoluted Metamorphosis and the slow, quasi-ballad, Tomb. Drake is proud of those songs, yet it’s the heavyweight punch of the likes of Cult or Words of the Dead (both played here) which really knocks fans of their feet.
Still, the glorious, almost unhinged Thrasher rounded things off: it does what it says on the tin, and nine years from being released, remains one of the outfit’s best moments.
A fitting conclusion then – especially with Exodus up next.