Evile: the kings of UK thrash come back from the dead

(Image credit: Evile)

It’s been a long slog for Evile. When they released their phenomenal debut, Enter The Grave, in 2007 they were Britain’s answer to the flood of 00s thrash revival bands coming from the US. The next six years saw them release four more records (each landing on the US Top Heatseekers charts), before heading into limbo in 2013. Now they’re back, working on a new album with a switched-up line-up including new member Adam Smith on guitar, plus long-time guitarist Ol Drake taking up vocal duties following the departure of his brother, Matt Drake. Hammer took a peek in the studio to see how things are with ‘Old Rake’ back in the saddle…

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(Image credit: Evile)

How does it feel to be back in the studio with Evile?

“It’s good – like riding an old bike! It feels like we’re starting exactly where we left off. Ben [Carter, drums] and Joel [Graham, bass] are my friends even outside of the band and we know Adam from Rip Tide really well, so everything has been very comfortable and cool.”

It’s been seven years since we last had an Evile record – how much material from those years is on the new record?

“All the songs are brand new. When I rejoined the band in 2018 [Ol initially left in 2013, releasing a solo record, Old Rake, in 2015], Evile basically hadn’t done anything since 2013. I figured I’d get on with writing for the record and we had our ideas set out by June 2019, which sounds like a long time ago now! I didn’t want to use older stuff. It didn’t feel right; it felt older and didn’t gel with what we wanted to go for this time around anyway.” 

You’ve swapped out producer Russ Russell this time for Chris Clancy…

“We love Russ, but we’ve recorded three albums with him and we don’t want to do the same things again. This record should be different to the last three, but in a cool way because we’re doing things with a more aggressive approach. I think I said the wrong thing in our statement [about my taking over vocal duties] because people think I’m going to go cookie monster, but basically… Matt is a singer-singer and really brings those melodies to our songs. My style is more rooted in older death metal – think early Sepultura, where it’s aggressive but still hitting the notes!

You’ve played in a few bands, but have you ever been a vocalist?

“Not beyond backing vocals or singing in the shower! It’ll be a challenge playing some of the Evile songs because the riffs and vocal melodies can take very different paths – I’ve no idea how Matt did some of the things he did.”

When you first came around you were one of the brightest shining stars of the thrash revival scene. How do you feel about it looking back?

“I love that we are considered a band that was part of something that helped revive thrash in any way. I look back on that time with fondness. I remember starting out, playing crappy venues where people would come up and say, ‘Why are you playing thrash? It’s stupid, from the 80s and dead!’ A few months later all the magazines were coming out talking about how thrash had come back and those same people were suddenly experts – fuck ’em! Ha ha!”

Do you see this as a new chapter in the Evile story, or more like a sequel?

“The way we’re looking at it, we’re starting from square one. With me technically being a new member – particularly with singing – we’re taking it like we’re a new band and seeing where can go from there. At the same time, I’m so excited about the new material because we tend to get a lot of typical responses, the biggest being ‘Evile’s first album is their best… the rest is crap!’ This record will appeal to those people; we’re going back to a similar style of thrash, but more.” 

Evile’s new record is due for release in early 2021 via Napalm Records

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.