Since 2011’s “Five Serpent’s Teeth” I’ve been waiting to see if their next album would be able to top the greatness achieved on it. Welcome to “Skull.”
The first track, included as incentive to pre-order the album on iTunes, begins with eerie sounds till the guitars and drums punch right in, seems like they’re spending no time dicking around on this album (I also just noticed this is the first time the first track of their albums wasn’t the title track.) From the first verse the overwhelming familiar feelings returns and reminds you that this’ll be a classic Evile track. The switch from chorus to verses is fast and a bit odd at first, but it grows on you. The albums first solos are one of the best ones on the album. Even just few minutes in you can already get a sense of where the whole album is headed, in terms of the overall feeling and musicianship, which is impressive.
Seeing as this song really had to grow on you first, I couldn’t really wrap my head around it the first listen through. The odd switches from chorus to verse really threw me off at first listen. The song really feels like it’s lacking that one extra boost it really needs to become a stand-out song. But, eventually the track grows on you and you’ll like it as is. Some incredibly redeeming qualities on this track are; the riff driving the chorus’, the lead up to the solo and of course, the solo itself. I have a feeling that what’s bothering me so much about why this track doesn’t stand out that far from the others is that it doesn’t seem to take any steps to prove it’s just as great as the other songs. Not a bad song, but certainly not the best. In the live setting the song will, and seems to be going over well, something that’s also important to think about.
This track greets you with pounding drums and a little bit of over dubbed guitar wah. “Skull awaits your soul” Matt’s shouting starts off the fast riffage in the track. So far the pace of album seems to be leaning torwards the faster side. Until the chorus hits, the song has the same exact feel that “Underworld” had. Thankfully, the riffs behind the chorus and the lead up to the verses are astounding. Two minutes in, the track slows and show cases a near breakdown riff that reminds you at how great Ol’s riff writing abilities are. “Step to the edge/ begin your trial” leads into even more harmonies, something this album is absolutely chock full of. After near endless harmonies, the speed of the song returns and Matt starts rattling off vocals faster than ever before, leading into a blistering solo. The “SKULL” shout along section should be a blast in a live setting (shout out to Evilcarlos for providing extra backing vocals!) Once more the “Skull awaits your soul” line is shouted and leads to rest of the track. The way this track is set up but also has a slight death metal vibe, something that I honestly enjoy. Evile heading down the path of “Death thrash” is something I would be skeptical of, but the slight death metal influence in this is the perfect amount and really helps the album evolve from their last album, Five Serpent’s Teeth.
Skull really provides that extra bump that Underworld was missing. The incredibly impressive riffs, and the smooth transitions make the track really stand out from the rest. Evile seems to be attempting to take advantage of a gift they have, which is a mid-song riff breakdown, this one being one of my favorites in the album. A second riff to give a mention is the incredibly fast riff leading into another finger blistering solo. “Skull” ends up being the most played one for me purely because how the song flows. The greater death metal influence on this album helps this track stand out as well. Listening to Ol do harmony after harmony is one of my favorite aspects about the band, but in this track it’s almost too much. Even after multiple listens I can’t really say with certainty this is my absolute favorite track, but with how this song is set up executed it just might be.
The Naked Sun
Here’s the first track that really begins with a completely different feeling. Right away I have to mention how great Ben’s (drums) playing is on this album. “Welcome to judgment” simple riffs move this song along, the ride cymbal in the chorus is a nice touch. After the usual verse/chorus run-throughs, we’re presented with a simpler solo. A lot about this song seems really simple. The solo ends with a Eddie Van Halen-esque tapping section, and a brutal riff with an added growl over it (a nice touch.) After this is my favorite part of the song, the use of multi-layering Matt’s vocals to add an extra vocal harmony (nearly sounding like a choir composed of just Matt.) Right when you think the song is done, an acoustic outro comes out of the woodwork. The section naturally fits onto the rest of the song and provides an excellent segue into the next song.
Matt’s vocals have really taken a huge step in quality since “Infected Nation” and even from “Five Serpent’s Teeth.” His clean/extra vocal harmony section in this song really shows what wonderful pipes Matt has worked on achieving in all this time. Even with two songs already hitting over the 6 minute mark (their last album only had one track reaching this) you really don’t notice it. The songs feel well balanced enough and contain enough riffs and different sections and things to keep you interested that the length is something you just don’t notice. The acoustic section on this track is one of the best outros on this album.
Head Of The Demon
Beginning this song with the evil sounding bass already makes this song a stand out, even from 30 seconds in. The verse/chorus transitions here are of usual Evile fashion, but also have something to them that makes them refreshingly new. The riff on the chorus will more than likely be caught in your head for some time. Even more acoustic guitar is built into the middle of the track, with a smooth transition leading into it. After that is a demonic over-dub that will definitely scare people on a first listen. The over-dubs on this album are a welcome touch, and something I hope they work upon for the next album. Even more tapping and higher clean vocals awaits listeners at the end of this track, and then the song ends as quickly as it began.
“Head Of The Demon” is easily a contender for best song on the album. With just the tapping section, evil bass opening, and demonic over dub alone. How they’re able to keep the same Evile feel with every new song and keep it surprisingly fresh is unknown to me, but its a great sign that later albums will continue to feel just as fresh. Being 4 tracks into the 9 in the regular edition of Skull, the album as a whole is already impressive, and can only go up from here. The amount of acoustics hidden in the tracks so far is great, adding a much needed small touch to really bring out the best of the new songs without sounding forced, or awkward.
Opening with just acoustic guitar, one would automatically assume this was just a ballad. Looking further under the surface of Tomb, you begin to see it really isn’t a ballad, more of a multi-layered story with a satisfying ending. The song itself is just guitars and drums until about a minute in when the vocals kick in. Matt’s softer vocals add to the song and drive it further along. Nearly three minutes in, it shifts into the heavier side of the song. “Should I answer when the tomb is calling out my name?” The verses used until the multitude of harmonies that eventually lead to more acoustic work and a solo are stupendous and satisfying. With just a minute of the track left, it switches to a very menacing feel. It’s good to see Evile taking a risk of having a song this long, last seeing a song this long on Infected Nation and it being their fourth longest song overall.
“Tomb” is without a doubt one of the strongest and most unique tracks on the album. The multiple layers on this song has those who felt more acoustics were necessary after hearing “In Memoriam” but also felt it needed to be balanced with heavy and crushing riffs. The verses leading into the acoustics 3/4ths through the song are an absolute highlight, and feel full of emotion and depth. Up until this point I was still a little bit worried this album wouldn’t be able to top the work they did with “Five Serpent’s Teeth” but after this track the worry has gone away. After hearing this I get the feeling that with this album they’ve finally been able to pour every part of their being into the music and make the songs that they want to make, and being able to take risks that they’ve wanted to for a while now. “Tomb” feels like one big risk, and they absolutely nailed it here.
Words Of The Dead
The riff that opens this song really surprised me at first listen. Immediately you have to take notice again how great the backing vocals are in this album, and how great they’ve always been. “Blind/ blind/ blind” leads into the chorus containing most the song name in it. The riffs in this song are fast tempo’ed and very in your face. The song is the second shortest song, and with how satisfying the song is you don’t notice it that much. Half way through, the riffage stops for just a second and a bass interlude is heard. Immediately after that you’re hit with a solo that demands you thrash out to it. The “Summon/ Awaken from slumber” section is the highlight of the track for me. Seriously, the backing vocals on this album are stellar. Leading into a demonic over-bearing overdub the song goes back into the chorus and after repeating the song title a few times the song is over.
This one, in my mind, would have made for a great single as well as “Underworld.” The song mixes a bit of cleaner vocals and life destroying riffs in a balanced fashion, that makes the song that much better. “Words Of The Dead” is probably the heaviest song as a whole without compromising any of its heaviness for acoustics or endless harmonies. The before solo and after solo riffs on this are face crushingly brutal, begging to be heard over and over again. This will definitely become some fans favorite song and possibly the most replayed, instantly.
Imagine Thrasher had an older and much more mature brother, and that’s what the beginning of “Outsider” sounds like. What would have been the more mature side to Thrasher kicks in afterwords. “Outsider” is the shortest track on the album, and it’s something you don’t even feel when listening to it. Most of the track uses the same two or so riffs, making sure to use them full potential. Halfway through (how many times have I used that phrase so far?) overdubbed vocals are mixed into the song, shifting the feeling of the song. Matt yells “Outsider” one last time and that seems to summon Ol and rip into a quick but earth pounding solo. The shortest song, but also the busiest.
This song and “Underworld” are probably the only two songs I don’t enjoy as much as the other. It’s not even the short length (I’m a big fan of stupidly long songs) it’s the repetitive use of the same riffs over and over during it’s short length. I was a huge fan of “Cult” from the last album being built around one riff, but in this song using the same ones doesn’t seem to work quite as well the second time around. The hip slamming solo on this does bring a small redemption, but only a small redemption since it’s so short.
What You Become
You’re greeted right off the bat to an infectious groove. “Can you take what I want to give?” with this groove, yes I can. After hearing how using the same riffs over and over again in “Outsider” didn’t work, it was good to see it work this time around. The song chugs along into a wah pedal filled solo, including even more tapping. It may tread over the same sections over and over again, the strength behind the groove easily makes up for that. The broken record effect on Matt’s effect on “close your eyes” line near the end comes out of left field. Matt’s inner two year old self kicks in near the end when the line “What you become is mine” is repeated over another tapping solo section.
Not sure how many times I can say this, but the groove in this makes the song perfect. The amount of tapping and harmonies on this album is an interesting idea. The last album contained only one section with tapping, that being the solo in “Eternal Empire.”Another thing to note is that I think this is the first song so far to NOT include a breakdown-ish section in the middle of the song. I’m not sure if it was planned, but nearly every track has a section where halfway through it either slows down, or breaks into another riff in a near breakdown-ish fashion. Of course, they never fully reach a breakdown, because the idea of adding breakdowns to songs to make it “brutal” is in insanely idiotic practice.
New Truths Old Lies
The creepiest intro acoustics I’ve ever heard welcome you into the song, making one feel like they’ve stumbled into the wrong side of town. After 30 seconds, the crunching guitar tone kicks you and brings your forward. The riffs in this chug along over the typical verse/chorus formula. And for the final time, half way through the song turns into a level of Sonic The Hedgehog, throwing an elbow shattering fast riff at you. Eventually, you go rocketing into a dive bomb solo, that ends quickly as it began. And we slow back down, it leads to more harmonies and back into the lead riff. “New Truths Old Lies” then leads to one riff being played over and over as the song slowly drones out and before you know it the album ends just as it begun.
The acoustics on the beginning of this are my favorite acoustics ever done so far. Something I wish they had done was incorporate that section into song again, or build the entire song around. As a finisher song, it does hit most of the bells and whistles a finishing song should. The elbow shattering fast riffs in the middle really hit the sweet spot for me, launching the song high on my list of favorite songs from Evile. The simple chorus used here does feel a bit too simple for me, but the approach of keeping things simpler as a whole with “Skull” appears to work well.
The entirety of “Skull” has a completely different feeling to it than the previous “Five Serpent’s Teeth.” Going back through the last album and going through this one it becomes very clear that they’re different in many ways. The simpler approach with “Skull” and the longer songs work for this time around. As a whole, it feels more similar to their first album “Enter The Grave” than any other album, just with added maturity to the songs and complexity. Here, it really seems like they’ve spent most of the album focusing on things they know work well, and running dangerously close to over-using certain things. For instance, the mid-song slow downs appeared in nearly every track. Despite this, it clearly is a strong step forward from “Five Serpent’s Teeth” and a very strong step in the right direction with experimenting with their core sound.
Congrats to Noel, and Noshin! You have just won a free copy of Skull! I’ll be contacting the both of you very soon!
About five minutes till winners are announced and I post the full SKULL review.
Anonymous asked: Yeah, it's just gone and I have to get up for work in the morning :( Oh well, ill have to look who wins tomorrow!
Make sure you do!
Anonymous asked: Will the winners be posted before midnight UK time? Some of us need to get up tomorrow :(
I was going to post the winners at 9PM EST, but isn’t it already midnight there?
hochgewolbte-blatterkronen asked: oh my god, austin, did you see ol's last tweet? is he engaged now
I think so, I’m so excited
Winner is being announced today, no matter what.
Good things about yesterday;
Saw Star Trek Into Darkness
The finale for The Office was 10000/10
FINALLY FINISHED THE REVIEW WEBSITE.
Half day was cool
My head hurts so much from sobbing for like 40 minutes in a row
I was going to watch the finale with Anna, but I’m not sure I can go through the episode again