Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Evildead - The Underworld (1991)

Annihilation of Civilization was hardly a breakout suffusion over the thrash-starved masses of the late 80s, but it gleaned enough press and attention that the band had earned a rightful mention along the same West Coast surge that vaulted Exodus and Forbidden fairly high into the underground consciousness. For their sophomore, still through Steamhammer, Evildead would evoke a more practiced, surgical and technical veneer to their compositions that was adjoined to higher production values and cleaner tones. Imagine Forbidden's Twisted Into Form with a less impressive, less melodic vocalist at the fore. Unfortunately, though there are some diamonds in the rough here, taking the form of a few individual riffs I found superior to the debut, the album seems to grow progressively less exciting the deeper you go...

Shit begins with a creepy intro, "Comshell 5" that blends some feedback, ambiance and horrific vocal samples into a promising smoothie, then betrayed by the all too standard, mid paced gait of "Global Warming". As you can tell from this title, Evildead were fully in check with the big ticket issues of the late 80s/early 90s, so it's no surprise that they take on the environment, crime, the situation in and surrounding Iraq ("Welcome to Kuwait"), and even a pre-emptive jab at bastards like yours truly ("Critic/Cynic"). But as for the song itself, its easily forgotten beyond the decent lead. "Branded" brings about the thicker bass tone of the album; this and "Welcome to Kuwait" compensate for the rather mundane riffs with some tight fills and increased energy levels, which escalate even further through "Critic/Cynic" and "The 'Hood", utilizing a similar momentum to Vio-Lence on their superior sophomore Oppressing the Masses. There's a cover of the Scorpions' "He's a Woman/She's a Man", which is simply not as confident or fun as the Texan Helstar rendition, and then a trio of solid but ineffective thrashers which don't deviate from the first half of the album.

Of course, some points are given to Evildead for staying pretty true to their motives. We would not be hearing a lame groove-metal mutation out of this act like a Skinlab or Machine Head (fueled by members of Defiance and Vio-Lence, respectively) and the band instead decided to hang up the towel when it was clear there was no future (recently reforming). The Underworld is not lacking for effort, and certainly not mechanical execution; think of it as a tighter, polished interpretation of their debut. But what it does lack is inspiration. The songs here simply don't gel that well at all. None of them scream out for a replay. The debut itself was not exactly a stunner, but it at least had a voracious and driving quality about it that made it pleasing to experience, whereas this successor seems to drown in its own architecture, never offending but also never distending the reach of Evildead to the genre's diminishing audience of the day.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

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