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For a while it seemed as if the true essence of thrash metal was lost. Suddenly there was a group of Scandinavian bands that combined their melodic death metal with torturing moaning and called it thrash. A similar thing happened in the US! But every true thrasher knew deep in his heart that this wasn't his music and kept true to the ancient thrash metal. Thrash the way Slayer and Metallica played in their early days and many other bands like Exodus, Testament, Overkill, Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Sabbat and Onslaught. Now we can add the British Evile to that group, because with the release of their debut album 'Enter The Grave' last month, they proved that there are still people out there who know how real thrash must sound. Guitar player Ol Drake speaks about his band and his beloved music.

By: Nima | Archive under speed / thrash metal

band imageCongratulations on your debut album 'Enter The Grave'. Evile is a pretty young band, so please take the time to introduce the band to our readers.
Thank you! We started out as a covers band about seven or eight years ago. Playing all the covers you'd expect from thrash fans wanting to play thrash. We did that for a few years and eventually got bored. Playing other people's songs just loses its novelty from our point of view, especially after three years of it. We decided to try out writing something of our own. When we threw it in with our covers set, people seemed to love it more than the covers, so we decided to do only that. We spent a long time writing our own stuff, progressing through an EP called 'All Hallows Eve' and a demo 'Hell', whilst gigging extensively to get our music out there. Eventually people started taking notice of what we were doing, which is no nonsense thrash metal. Matt Drake on rhythm guitar and vocals, Mike Alexander on bass, Ben Carter on drums and myself on lead guitar. Due to several incorrect magazine articles we also have magical additional members such as Nick Drake and Ben Drake. We're now signed to Earache Records and we'll be around to thrash in your face soon.

The first time I heard 'Enter The Grave' I got a nostalgic feeling and I must admit it was great hearing some old school thrash metal again. If I hadn't read the biography I could have sworn that you guys were from the Bay Area. What can you tell us about the musical direction the band chose? I mean, there are a lot of bands that try to sound old school, but still use a modern sound, but you guys kept to the roots so to speak.
We didn't intentionally plan to “sound old school” or anything like that. The fact that we've all listened to that stuff for years upon years became the only thing we could work with. We love thrash the way it's supposed to be played, so when we write our music we naturally write what we think sounds good, or what would sound good to a thrasher. If we don't genuinely like something about a song we'll scrap it until we do something that works for us. We know good thrash when we hear it. We're still fans of thrash, we still go and see bands and get involved in the pit or get down the front. We love the music and the whole thrash scene, and I think that comes out in our music.

You have to admit that luck was surely on your side that your talent was soon discovered by one of the majors in the metal; Earache. Of course you've had your share of luck concerning gigs as well, but still (and fortunately) finding a record deal went pretty fast. How did that happen?
I think luck was a factor, but not all of it. We put a lot of work into getting where we are. We gigged all the time, as much as we could. If someone asked us to play somewhere we'd go play there. We got selected to headline the second stage at the UK's Bloodstock Open Air in 2006, which we're actually playing again next year. We didn't know that the Earache guys were also there checking out bands and getting wasted. We had an awesome show in the beer tent and everyone was having a good time. Metal Church had just finished on the main stage as we started, then everyone crammed into the tent. A few days after the show we received an e-mail from label boss Digby Pearson asking if we'd be interested in signing with Earache. After lots of talking and meetings we signed with Earache in October of 2006. At first it was daunting as they are the home of some of our favourite bands like Morbid Angel and Carcass.

I know this question may not be one you're waiting for, but of course working with Earache gave you the opportunity to work with Flemming Rasmussen! Not many bands get the chance to work with such a legend, especially for their debut album. How was it work with Flemming and I wonder what you felt while you were working on the album with him.
I think the fact that we were on Earache gave us the chance to work with Flemming, but he genuinely liked what we were doing and, from what I remember him saying, he would have liked to work with us either way. It was brilliant working with Flemming. The first day we got there we walked into this huge studio. As we walked down one hallway we saw countless gold and silver Metallica discs. As you walked down the number of sales went from two hundred thousand to five hundred, a million and to twelve million haha. Because Flemming is such a nice, friendly guy, the recording experience was awesome. He made us feel really welcome and relaxed. He even invited us to help him move house, to which we asked “Are you producing us just so you've got someone to help you move house?” to which he replied “yeah” and probably added “FOCKKKK!”. Although the studio isn't the same location as the “Lightning/Puppets” home, we were going through the same gear. Going through the same desk as lightning and puppets were done through was weird but cool. The recording process was very fluid. We didn't use any samples or triggers, we just recorded the natural sounds of everything. The drums just miked up, same with the cabs. He told us he wanted to make an album that sounds like it was made back in the glory days of Thrash. I think he did an excellent job and I don't see a reason why we won't be working with him again. Flemming is the man!

Listening to the album I think the influences are quite obvious. I know you don't name Slayer as your main influence, but in my opinion you sound more like Slayer than Slayer itself nowadays, partly because of the vocals! How far can you agree?
Slayer are a huge influence on us, but mainly to Matt and Mike. At first Matt sounded quite a lot like Tom Araya/Hetfield, and it wasn't intentional, it just naturally came out like that after years of listening to those two. So after a while he developed his own “voice”. Although a lot of people would still argue “but he sounds like so and so” we think Matt's voice perfectly suits our music. He's been compared to vocalists such as Schmier (Destruction), Araya (Slayer) and Cronos (Venom). Personally I can't hear too much of that in his voice, I'm just used to his own voice. I don't think we sound more like Slayer than Slayer do as whatever Slayer do will be how they sound at the time. You can't expect a band to stay the same for the rest of their lives, you've got to progress, it just depends how you do it and which direction you go in. Slayer went down a road some people didn't like, but personally I still like them. If we sound like old Slayer it wouldn't surprise me as we listen to Slayer a lot, but we don't sit down and intentionally try to rip them off. I've heard some bands that sounded TOO Slayer, as if the riffs are practically the same, just with a few different notes.

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I also see the album as an answer to all the bands that claim thrash metal is what a band like Killswitch Engage does in their aggressive parts or all the bands that think thrash should be played in the Scandinavian way. 'Enter The Grave' is like a fist in the faces of this type of bands and a record that shows how real thrash should be played. Am I wrong or was that somehow the intention a little bit?
It wasn't our original intention to “show” bands how thrash is done. We'd have played the exact same music if we thought, “let's show these bands how to thrash”. The only thing I can say about some bands claiming to be thrash, is that it's slightly embarrassing. Every single real thrash fan knows a fake when they see/hear one. When one of these bands says they're thrash they stand out like a fat blue woman. Every thrasher can see through it. I don't get it. If you're not thrash, you know you're not thrash. If you've got a small percent of your set/album that could be deemed “thrash”, then you're not thrash. You might be for fifteen seconds, but you're not thrash. You've got to live and love thrash, not just say it. It's like Metallica's 'Fight Fire with Fire'. The classical-sequel intro doesn't mean they're Neo Classical or whatever.

As a thrasher, how do you look back at the developments of the scene in the past few years? Except bands like Exodus, Overkill, Destruction and Kreator the scene hasn't brought any good old fashioned thrash from the bigger names. Even the latest Slayer albums can't match up.
Other than the mentioned bands there hasn't been much going on. But I don't hold it against the bands that are no longer thrashing. Metallica for instance; even though 'St. Anger' was absolute pump, I still like them and I'm still interested in seeing what they have to offer. Everyone knows it will never be 'Master of Puppets' again, but I still like them. I even liked 'Load' and 'Reload'. A lot of people didn't but I thought the song writing and production on those albums was great. I wonder what 'St. Anger' would have sounded like with 'Reload's production. I think the developments now will be interesting. Thrash is becoming so much more “acceptable” again. Whereas in the UK you could have seen Anthrax playing to fifty people in 2000, now they play to thousands upon thousands again. Plus Testament are doing a new album, how can that not be a good thing?

As I mentioned earlier in the interview, I couldn't have guessed you guys were from the UK and to be honest I didn't expect old school thrash from your country. Sometimes there's a nice heavy metal album coming and of course the good releases come from the bigger bands. On the thrash front I think the only band that came with a decent album was Onslaught. Is everything so underground or is there just not much happening there at the moment?
There's a lot happening in the UK when it comes to thrash. A lot of the bands are not globally known. But there are some great bands. Check out Mutant from London. There are so many UK thrash bands playing in some crap hole somewhere who would blow away a lot of signed/recognized bands. When it comes to thrash releases from the UK you can't miss out Xentrix and Sabbat. Sabbat's 'History of a Time to Come' is an awesome thrash album; a different style of thrash but somehow still in same vein.

Back to the old school aspect, vinyl is coming back more and more and I think you agree that metal sounds better on vinyl. Seeing that Earache is already providing a lucky group with a 7-inch, do you know if there is plans to release 'Enter The Grave' will be released on vinyl?
I provided myself with a 7-inch. We've recently started talking about vinyl, and it looks like it will happen. Some limited versions may also be done soon. Can't really say much as not much has been said! Personally I think vinyl sounds way much better than CD. My dad brought me up on seventies rock/progressive and he had thousands of vinyl's. There's just nothing better than having that huge cover with more detail, awesome booklets or a gatefold album. I just love it. I just looked at my Nuclear Assault 'Game Over' vinyl the other night. That vinyl RULES!

You have a lot of gigs planned for the coming months and in December you're also playing with the legendary Sabbat! All of them planned for the UK however. If I'm correct there was also a European tour planned with Susperia, which unfortunately was cancelled. Is there already something planned for a tour outside the UK or do we have to be patient for a bit longer?
2008 will be the year we finally get out there properly. We're going to try and get everywhere. USA, Europe, Japan etc, working on it right now! Obviously we don't have the pulling power to do our own tours but we'll be visiting with some awesome bands.

For the future, what “dream line-up” would you like to be part of in a tour?
Metallica would be the dream, but I can't see them taking a thrash band out. I'd hope they would though. Other than that I'd love to tour with Destruction, Exodus, Anthrax, Possessed, Testament and Minibosses, a band who cover tunes from the old NES Games console!

Well…, Thank you for your time and hope to see you on stage soon! If there's anything left unmentioned, please don't hesitate to share…

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