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Evil – Possessed by Evil

Possessed by Evil
by Max Elias at 20 January 2021, 10:59 PM

Japan’s EVIL are a chaotic bunch. They write fast, dirty, BLACK METAL-tinged thrash, although the opening instrumental “The Cycle of Pain” makes them seem more like a classic SPEED METAL band, with all its shredding and cleaner-sounding riffs. The band shows their musical colors as soon as the dirtier, more frenetic and unhinged “Yaksa” start playing. The riffs rip with startling intensity and sound closer to THRASH METAL than BLACK METAL, but the vocals bring that element back.

The band writes some great, surprisingly melodic riffs; though they are chaotic and brutal, they also have an irresistible groove to them. The main riff of “Raizin” really exemplifies this tendency. Even though the band is singing entirely in Japanese (and are singing in a BLACK METAL style), not understanding it does nothing to stop me from enjoying it. The band has found new ways to combine old concepts (neither THRAASH METAL or BLACK METAL is a novel idea at this point) into music that sounds like them. I would be tempted to compare them to SKELETONWITCH, because they have a similar approach to riffing.

One thing they definitely have that is all their own is their emphasis on good old fashioned, pomp and circumstance shredding. Almost every song has a solo, usually one that sparks jealousy of the guitarist’s fingers. “The Cycle of Pain” isn’t even the only instrumental on the album, which is always a sign that a band loves shredding. The leads are never mindless either; you can tell that there is a progression of ideas and intent behind every lick. Solos on songs like “Hell’s Evil Bells” (which is short enough that it’s mostly defined by soloing) are technically impressive but also musical, even pentatonic and bluesy at times which is rare in anything calling itself BLACK METAL. Even the sweep picking inferno that closes out “Bottom of Hell” doesn’t feel shoehorned in; it just fits with the overall atmosphere; the fact that showing off is fun is a nice bonus though.

The album takes a few songs’ worth (short songs, to be fair) of break to indulge EVIL’s guitar pyrotechnic whimsy, and returns to fuller material with “Enmaten”, a wrecking-ball of a song. The riffs are strong and the passion behind the vocals makes me wish I knew Japanese. Like the rest of their discography, the song is very guitar centric. Whoever Asura or Bishamonten are, they’re great players, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising from a country where Marty Friedman playing pop makes sense. The last few songs of the album, which include “Enmaten”, are very strong. “Possessed by Evil” is a shambling (in a positive way) mass of drums and tremolo picking and one of the more varied songs on the album. After the obligatory crazy lead, the song enters a slower arpeggio riff and the energy shifts for a climatic lead up to the album closer “Evil way of Live”. “Evil way of Live” shows all the band members throwing together their talents, featuring multiple guitar solos as well as a drum solo. The written music is also impressive, cutting riffs as usual.,

This is a good album for anyone who likes metal with harsher vocals, but whether or not it’s a great album depends how much you like solos in music. I personally love the six-string worship and intensity that all these leads have, but not everyone is the same. And in terms of songs, they write solid, sometimes unique but often a little homogenous songs. I think they would sound a lot more like other bands and be less gripping if they didn’t have the lead guitar to focus on.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Musicianship: 10
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

  1. The Cycle of Pain
  2. Yaksa
  3. Revenge
  4. Raizin
  5. Paramount Evil
  6. Reaper
  7. The Gate of Hell
  8. Hell’s Evil Bells
  9. Bottom of Hell
  10. Enmaten
  11. Possessed by Evil
  12. Evil way of Live
Asura – Vocals, Guitars
Enmaten – Bass
Bishamonten – Guitars
Yaksa – Drums
Rasetsuten – Guitars
Record Label: Nuclear War Now! Records


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Edited 07 March 2021

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