After what seems like an absolute lifetime away in band years, thrash metallers Evile are back and ready to unleash Hades incarnate with their new record Hell Unleashed. Just prior to it's April 30th release, we had the privilege of sitting down with Joel Graham, the bands bassist, to have a chat about all things Evile surrounding the upcoming release.
It's been nearly eight years since the last Evile record, how does it feel to be back and ready to hit the ground running with your new record Hell Unleashed?
“Great, it's exciting for us all to be back after so long! It seemed weird that we threw everything into this new album at the start of a lockdown after being away for so long, the timing was a bit crap there but we got it all done and that's the main thing! And it's out on April 30th so that seems to have come around really quick!”
Obviously the world is in a bit of a state at the moment, how did you find that affected the writing and recording of this record?
“In a way it's helped us, because we had nothing else to do, Evile and this album was the only focus that we really had between us, so once we had a date for the studio, we had all the songs written anyway a good two years before, so it was just ready for us to go straight ahead and do it! The only regret is that we can't do any live shows at the moment.”
The new record is your first album since Enter The Grave not recorded with Russ Russell, who helped produced the new record?
“We recorded it with Chris Clancy (Kill The Lights, Machine Head, Kataklysm), he's a young producer, we recorded at Backstage Recording Studio's in Derbyshire which is Andy Sneap's (Opeth, Killswitch Engage, Judas Priest) studio, who's known for many great productions, and Chris certainly delivered the goods for us he was great to work with.”
Going into the record were there any specific elements you wanted to throw into the mix?
“Subconsciously I think we did want to make a heavy, old-school thrash album. That's been kicking around within the last eight years since we released Skull, we wanted more of an aggressive chainsaw style, grab-you-by-the-throat-album, no messing about, straight to the point, and we think we've got that with Hell Unleashed.”
Can we expect any new music from the album before release?
“Yeah we've got a lyric video set to release just before the album releases, which brings us to three singles from the album before release which I think is a pretty fair amount.”
Some of the track titles for the record are quite striking, is there any kind of underlying theme to this record?
“Yeah it's just classic metal subjects really, like horror movies and things like that, throughout Evile's history we've always tipped our hats and given nods to great movies and we continue that on this record too!”
Do you have any favourite tracks from the record yourself?
“It depends, usually for me I get favourites once we start playing them live, but at the moment I'm really enjoying Gore which we released as a single and The Thing (1982) that's good fun as well, I'm looking forward to people hearing that one”
You had Brian Posehn on the song Gore, but if you could pick any person to feature on an Evile track who would you pick?
“Dead or alive? I'd have to go with Christopher Lee, he's got that baritone voice, I think he'd be awesome on an Evile track”
Since joining Evile what do you feel has been the biggest challenge you've faced as part of the band?
“I think the initial few months, obviously I replaced Mike Alexander who sadly passed away while they were on tour with the band back in 2009, so stepping into his shoes was a major challenge because they were still promoting Infected Nations, and had a tour booked all through Europe and a total of like seven months in the United States to do as well so we had to get to know each other very quickly, which was easy y'know we got on great right from the start, and meeting the fans, people who'd been into Evile for a long time and knew Mike very well, having conversations with them and seeing their warmth towards me helped that, they welcomed me into the fold and I've made a lot of friends from it since!”
Now that live music is starting to make it's return, are there any festivals or venues that you've got your sights set on that you want to play with Evile?
“Well we've been announced for Bloodstock in Derbyshire in August, which is one we've done countless times now but we're really looking forward to that, and then as a punter I'm looking forward to Damnation Fest which happens in Leeds, so as long as those two go ahead I'll be happy for the rest of the year”
If you could go out on tour with any band, be it supporting or playing above, who would you go with?
“I'd certainly have to go with the big thrash bands, it'd be great to go out with like Metallica and, we've done the odd show with Anthrax but we haven't yet done a full tour with them. Also, I'd love to get the chance to see someone like Gojira every night and do some shows with them. The list is endless really there's thousands of bands out there that I'd jump at the opportunity to do shows with!”
So, what has it been like trying to get Evile back on track for touring and releasing music after all this years, what with everything the band has been through in the past?
“It's been hard work, Ol (Drake, guitar, vocals) quit the band shortly after we released Skull and that threw a big spanner in the works because Ol is very driven and he kinda pushes us all on to get things done. Then we had a period where we got another guitarist in called Piers (Donno-Fuller), and that enabled us to get out and promote Skull and do some touring, not on the scale we'd done before we did reign it in a little bit, but I think it took Ol leaving and then coming back to for us to get enthused again.
Now unfortunately Matt, Ol's brother, who had sung lead vocals and rhythm guitar on the previous albums, has hit a point in his life where he had other priorities, and we had a long discussion about it and we understood his reasons. We're still very close and friends to this day but you have to respect someones decision when they don't want to do it anymore, so we had to adapt. We talked about getting a new vocalist and other scenarios and ultimately we felt it best that Ol side stepped into Matt's shoes and took over lead vocals. He's done a great job, it's a bit of a different style but I think people will be surprised when they hear Ol singing the older stuff, not that's it's gonna be vastly different, but with a lot of the vocals on the new album he's got a more guttural, earthy style to him.”