Leicester does not get metal gigs very often these days. Stuck between Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Birmingham, Leicester gets bypassed every time and so it is fair to say that there was a fair bit of excitement when we heard that Evile would be dropping in on our home turf.
The band are reaching the halfway point in a fairly lengthy tour with the similarly minded Savage messiah and so things are running pretty much like clockwork, with the first act (Internal conflict) hitting the stage around about 8pm to a creepy sample before unleashing their vicious brand of Exodus-esque metal all over Sub 91. The small crowd clearly love every minute of it and if Leicester disappoints in numbers it certainly doesn’t in energy, with hair and sweat flying before the first track’s even over. Introducing ‘the dying years’ the band demand from each and every member of the audience a heavy metal show and with flaming hot riffs searing the front row and gargling-with-acid vocals very much to the fore, they get it. It’s frighteningly intense and the assembled throng love it, especially when the band take a moment to pay tribute to the fans who’ve made it out to the show on a Tuesday night. Referencing Evile, the band soon conjure up a roar from the crowd, but truthfully there’s no need to talk about other bands – Internal Conflict are gloriously brutal and very good at what they do as evidenced by the almost continuous pit that swirls and eddies near the front of the stage throughout their set.
Coming up to quarter to nine, and with a quick stage turn around that sees banners erected all over the damn place, it’s time for Savage Messiah to take the stage. Coming on to a suitably orchestral intro, the band kick off with the Accuser whilst their scarily youthful singer plays Dave Mustaine to the previous band’s Rob Dukes. More melodic, this is classic thrash and the swirling mass at the front of the stage hardly abates, but sadly the mix is well off with the drums and bass far too prominent while vocals and solos are lost amidst the muddy mess that’s left. It’s not the band’s fault and from previous experience I know that Savage Messiah are a class act, with material such as ‘Plague of conscience’ a whirlwind of solos and ‘carnival of souls’ a moody metallic beast, but on this particular evidence the band are let down by the sound desk and it feels like a missed opportunity. With the sound slightly improved by the end, Savage Messiah finish on a high with ‘Insurrection’ and thanks to their showmanship and consummate professionalism not all is lost, but it does not bode well for Evile…
Someone clearly pressed a magic button…
Coming on to a loud chant of their name, over and over again, the floor is a seething mass bodies and Evile are looking more and more like the devastating headline act they’ve become in the last few years. The sound has improved tenfold with drums back down in the mix where they belong and the twin guitars of Matt and Ol sounding suitably incisive. They sound… immense. Just huge, and lead off track ‘five serpent’s teeth’ not only sets the venue aflame but also shows how far and how fast Evile have developed their sound over three albums. While ‘Enter the grave’ and ‘infected nations’ were both perfectly serviceable thrash albums, this is a whole new level for the band and you can tell from t he grins on stage that they are loving every minute of it. There is no let up. ‘Killer from the deep’ sounds like vintage Megadeth, with its harsh riffing and tempo changes whilst vocals and guitars benefit from being gloriously crisp and clear. Clearly stoked to be on stage and receiving a rapturous welcome, the band unleash another cut from the new album (‘eternal empire’) a slow, doomy number that lumbers under an infernal weight before achieving a neck-breaking momentum that threatens to put the entire audience in hospital with whiplash. ‘who we are about to die’ has the whole crowd joining in before some wonderfully childish banter sees the chorus to ‘cult’ gleefully switched to “join our c***” much to the crowd’s amusement. Next the band unleash ‘thrasher’ sending the mosh pit into a frenzy of flailing limbs and hair. With crowd and band sweating profusely we are promised “something stupidly fast” and the band deliver us ‘descent into madness’ from the new record. It is assuredly fast although not entirely stupid and more importantly it’s fucking heavy and, paired with thrasher, it’s amazing anyone at the front of the stage is still standing.
With the crowd at Evile’s mercy, ‘infected nations’ appears as the band’s official final song although convention demands… one last song, which appears in the form of ‘enter the grave’ which provides a suitable climax to a near flawless set.
What is there left to say about Evile that has not already been said? The development between albums is huge with the vocal approach on the new record, in particular, highlighting the steps forward the band are taking. With the live set largely drawn from new material, albeit with plenty of classics thrown in, it was noticeable that the crowd knew every track and every riff highlighting exactly how passionate a following Evile have. Moreover, with the exception of a smattering of ubiquitous Slayer T shirts, well over two thirds of the crowd were sporting Evile t shirts and merchandise and the atmosphere inside the venue was excellent with fans feeding off each other’s excitement and the bands all putting on tight, ferocious shows. Sound issues aside, Evile, Savage Messiah and Internal Conflict offered up an amazing night of entertainment, banged a shit-load of heads and made every single person in the venue very, very happy.