Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Evildead - Rise Above EP (1988)

In the US in the 80s, it was a fairly common practice for a metal act to release a short-form EP as a teaser, but a little unusual to revolve that around a cover track. This is exactly what the Los Angeles riot police Evildead did with Rise Above. Granted, this was a product of guitarist Juan Garcia, who had formed this straight thrashing squad in lieu of Agent Steel's separation after Unstoppable Force, hardly a newcomer to the field. You won't feel the same sense of hyper and howling anxiety here that you felt with John Cyriis in the wings, as Evildead pursue a more street savvy, darkened style akin to a Rigor Mortis, Testament or Gammacide, but they still rip out some quick licks and furious Bay Area -style violence.

The issue here is really that the two original songs are vastly superior to the band's cover of Black Flag's "Rise Above". I'm not incredibly opposed to the selection, as it makes a lot of sense for a California thrash band to cover a legendary hardcore band from the same shore, but despite the Anthrax-like punch and steady gang shouts, you can file it under the fun but forgettable pile along with "Got the Time" or "Antisocial". The plucky clean guitars and excess lead thrown into the bridge do little for the song. Far better are the stylistic samplers of what the band will deliver on their following Annihilation of Civilization album. "Sloe-Death" is the better of the two, with brutal, tearing guitar work and the melodic, descending mutes around 1:30; Phil Flores shouting along like a hybrid of Tom Araya and Excel's Dan Clements. His vocals have a bit more bite on "Run Again", and I liked the opening rhythms and leads, but not so much the crossover velocity burst in the vein of D.R.I., Cryptic Slaughter, and Excel (though they toss another great lead and melody in there).

There's also an entire, if brief track devoted to a Suicidal Tendencies riff cover (from "Institutionalized"), which is utterly worthless. All told, the Rise Above EP has very little value, unless you can acquire it as bonus tracks on the reissue of Annihilation of Civilization. However, the original tracks show quite a lot of promise that the band would manage to fine tune into that full-length debut. In particular, Juan Garcia and Albert Gonzalez do a great job of composing some searing, vicious guitar work, though the chorus sequences are not quite up to par with a lot of the Californian speed and thrash that was incredibly hot at the time (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, etc.).

Verdict: Indifference [5.25/10]
(we are tired of your abuse)

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